Posted by Editoress on 07/13/05
Mark French's Suspension Overturned
Statement by Mr Graham Fredericks, Chief Executive Officer, Cycling Australia
The Court of Arbitration for Sport Appeals Panel has today overturned the suspension of cyclist Mark French which was imposed by CAS on the 8th of June, 2004.
Cycling Australia respects the processes of the Court of Arbitration for Sport which in this case is the final arbiter. As a result we have no alternative but to abide by this final ruling.
The Court has stated that in this case they have demanded a very high standard of proof almost approaching beyond reasonable doubt and that we have failed to meet that standard. We are certainly frustrated that despite two hearings in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, three independent inquiries and hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on this case there is no cut-and-dried resolution.
The CAS Appeals Panel has ruled there is insufficient evidence to prove the charges in relation to Equine Growth Hormone and are not satisfied that Testicomp contains banned glucocorticosteroids despite the label saying it does. We presented our evidence and it hasn't been enough. We have exhausted all our legal avenues and there is nothing else we can do.
We have an obligation to our members and the public to vigorously pursue cases and that is what we have done. We presented our evidence and it was tested in court. Mr French exercised his rights under the same policy and this case is now closed.
I'm sad that cycling has been dragged through this because the sport doesn't deserve it. Cheating is the rare exception not the rule and we'll keep fighting to keep it that way for the thousands of Australians who get on their bikes every day to train and race.
I think Australians recognise how much is good in the sport of cycling. The public has been enthusiastic in their support of our athlete's during and since the Athens Olympic Games and this year at major events both here and overseas. Australians do not condemn the innocent and have demonstrated that quite clearly. We will not let cheats destroy our sport.
In relation to some of the specifics of the judgement Cycling Australia believes the DNA evidence ultimately was of no evidentiary value. In fact the panel has ruled that cross-contamination is a viable possibility and hence decided that any evidence relating to DNA in the bucket is unreliable. That would have been the case regardless of any action by us after discovery of the bucket.
It is clear from the findings of the Anderson report there was no cover up by Cycling Australia or the Australian Sports Commission and Mr Anderson found we followed the correct procedures and handled the matter expeditiously, conscientiously and in good faith and with concern for the rights of Mr French and others affected by the case. This case is a unique and complex one in the history of Australian sport and I honestly don't know what else we could have done.
This case is obviously one that would have immediately been referred to ASADA and we applaud the setting up of the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority. Obviously we hope we are never in a position where we have to refer something to them but will not hesitate to do so if the need arises.
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