3 November 2015

Team files lawsuit against former cyclists while suspension is upheld

Cycling team Androni-Sidermec have announced the dates that two Italian courts will hear lawsuits filed against two of its former riders, David Appollonio and Fabio Taborre. The two cyclists both failed drugs tests earlier this year. According to the team’s statement, the Court of Lucca, Italy, has set a date of 18 March to hear the lawsuit filed against Appollonio, and the Court of Turin, also in Italy, has set a date of 22 March for Taborre’s case.

In July, when Appollonio was first suspended after returning an adverse analytical finding (AAF) for erythropoietin (EPO), the Sports Integrity Initiative reported that the team had hired a lawyer to follow the procedure for a damages action. All riders for Androni-Sidermec have to sign an internal health regulations which include the possibility of liability for €100,000 in damages if they are found guilty of doping. According to reports, Team Manager Gianni Savio ‘insisted that the two riders would be prosecuted by the team and its riders for what he calls ‘criminal behaviour’.’

The decision to file lawsuits against the two riders has been labelled as an ‘unprecedented step in cycling’ as it is the ‘first judicial initiative taken by all members of a team’ – the riders, technicians and other personnel – against two former athletes of the same team.

In Androni-Sidermec’s statement, the team also registered its disappointment at the Union Cycliste Internationale’s (UCI) decision to dismiss the team’s request for a lifting of the 30-day suspension it had imposed on it earlier this year. Under the UCI’s new Anti-Doping Rules, which came into effect on 1 January 2015, if two riders within a team have an Anti-Doping Rule Violation (ADRV), within a period of 12 months, the team shall be suspended from participation for a period of between 15 days and 45 days (Article 7.12.1). However, the suspension can be lifted if at least one ADRV was committed by the rider with no involvement of any team member or staff, and that the team applied due diligence and took all measures that could reasonably be expected in order to avoid the commission of anti-doping rule violations.

Savio said that he was ‘baffled by the motivations with which the UCI Disciplinary Commission dismissed their request.’ Savio continued that the team had appealed the suspension as a ‘matter of principal’. Androni-Sidermec claims that it had followed all due procedure and ‘couldn’t have done any more to prevent doping’. According to the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible (MPCC), the team had also abided by the 10th Article of the MPCC’s internal regulations by self-suspending itself for a month after it had decided to sue Appollonio and Taborre after their positive doping tests.

After outlining the numerous anti-doping programmes and education in place at Androni-Sidermec, Savio noted that even the [UCI Disciplinary] Commission had found that the ‘decision to dismiss the appeal can not be interpreted as a finding of involvement of one or more members of the team.’

Without having raised any accusation against us, the Commission has come to a decision different from what one would have expected. In conclusion we would have to prove the unprovable.’

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