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The US Anti-Doping Agency announced on Saturday that the Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected Tyler Hamilton's appeal against a two-year suspension for blood doping. The Olympic time trial champion tested positive for blood doping during the 2004 Vuelta and will now have to serve out the rest of a ban that runs until September 22 this year.
Hamilton, then riding for the Swiss Phonak team, was the first rider to fall foul of a test designed to detect the presence of someone else's red blood cells in a sample. His then team-mate Santiago Perez, who finished as runner-up in that year's Vuelta, also tested positive for blood doping in October 2004.
The CAS held 12 hours of hearings on the case in Denver, USA, last month, when Hamilton and his legal team presented substantial evidence intended to back up their claim that the blood doping test is fundamentally flawed. However, this evidence did not sway the three-member panel judging the case.
"USADA has met its burden of proof by demonstrating the HBT test conducted by the Lausanne Laboratory was in accordance with the scientific community's practice and procedures," the CAS panel statement said. USADA chief executive Terry Madden said the organisation had considered all theoretical explanations for the positive test, including the existence of a 'disappearing twin' in the womb of Hamilton's mother and an extortion plot by a fan of another team.
"The panel considered each of the excuses and found each to be completely without merit. It is sad that Mr Hamilton resorted to conspiracy theories rather than just accept the consequences of his doping," said Madden.
In a statement on his website Hamilton said he was disappointed with the decision and would commit himself to "fighting for reform within the anti-doping movement."
He continued: "I do support the anti-doping mission and USADA, however the current system has failed an innocent athlete and needs to change. Out of respect to fairness and the rights of all athletes, there should be clear separation between the agencies that develop new tests and those that adjudicate anti-doping cases. Credible, independent experts, not those who funded or developed the original methodology, should be charged with properly validating new tests.
"I don't believe any athlete should be subjected to a flawed test or charged with a doping violation through the use of a method that is not fully validated or generates fluctuating results. I will also continue to support the formation of unions to help protect the rights of athletes. My goal is to keep other athletes from experiencing the enormous pain and horrendous toll of being wrongly accused."
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