An appeal by a lawyer for disgraced cyclist Andriy Kashechkin over the right to submit athletes to doping tests could threaten to change the face of sport when the case is heard Tuesday.
Kashechkin tested positive for homologous blood doping following the 2007 Tour de France - during which his team, Astana, was thrown out when team leader Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping.
Kashechkin claims he did not inject his own blood to enhance his performance, and has even protested the legitimacy of the principle of being tested by the sports authorities. Now his lawyer is hoping to show that submitting athletes to doping controls runs contrary to basic human rights.
Kashechkin's lawyer is Luc Misson, who co-defended Jean-Marc Bosman after the Belgian footballer took his team to the European Court of Justice, and won, over 'restraint of trade' in 1995.
Misson will argue in a Belgian court on Tuesday that sports bodies such as the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) have no legal right to submit athletes to doping tests.
In essence, he believes that sports bodies, because they are run privately and are not public bodies, have no legal right to interfere in the lives of individuals.
"The Kashechkin case, as regards (the) anti-doping (rules), could be viewed in a similar vein as the Bosman ruling," said Misson. "It's a case of who wins loses.
"If we lose, we will go to the court of appeal, then the Supreme Court of Appeal, then the European Court of Human Rights. And then we will be in a very good position. At the human rights court it would lead to a (favourable) decision at a world, if not a European level."
Misson will also argue that the Belgian officials who collected blood samples from Kashechkin, while he was on holiday in Turkey on August 1, did so out of the legal time limit of 0600 - 2200.
Legal experts elsewhere believe Misson is on to a winner.
"I think Kashechkin could win this case," said Jean-Michel Marmayoua, a French legal expert in sport at the University of Marseille.
Conscious of the ramifications of such a victory in court, the respective bodies which represent the riders and the teams in cycling - who support the fight against doping - have appealed to the Belgian court to be heard as witnesses.
© AFP 2007