Italy's Davide Rebellin loses appeal of decision stripping him of cycling medal at 2008 Games
GENEVA – Italian cyclist Davide Rebellin lost an appeal Friday of a decision stripping him of his 2008 Olympic silver medal for doping. He could now be suspended by cycling's governing body and stripped of other race results.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that the International Olympic Committee was right to disqualify Rebellin after he tested positive for the banned blood-boosting drug CERA.
The IOC said in a statement it was pleased with the decision and can now award the silver medal to Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara, who finished third in Beijing. Fourth-place finisher Alexander Kolobnev of Russia will get the bronze. Samuel Sanchez of Spain won the gold medal.
The CAS panel of three lawyers rejected Rebellin's arguments that mistakes were made in testing his blood sample and the test itself was not valid.
"The procedures of the chain of custody have been complied with and ... there was no departure from the international standards for laboratories which could have reasonably caused an abnormal analysis result," CAS said in a statement. "The presence of CERA has been validly detected in the blood samples of the athlete."
Rebellin was caught in April 2009, eight months after the Beijing Games road race, when the IOC retested the Olympic samples for traces of CERA.
The 39-year-old Italian denied doping, but was immediately suspended by Italy's Olympic committee and his team at the time, Diquigiovanni-Androni. The Italian Olympic body also demanded Rebellin repay his $98,000 silver-medal bonus.
CERA is an advanced version of the hormone EPO, which stimulates the production of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. It was first detected in sports by the French anti-doping agency, which developed a test and caught four cyclists more than two months after the 2008 Tour de France.
That success prompted the IOC to retest blood samples from Beijing. Rebellin was one of five Beijing athletes who were later disqualified when their samples came back positive for CERA. Rebellin's blood was analyzed at the Chatenay-Malabry lab near Paris.
CAS said that Rebellin's sample had also been tested in Beijing for traces for human growth hormone. The IOC stores Olympic samples for eight years to allow further analysis when new tests are developed.
The Rebellin case is the last outstanding result from the Beijing Olympics to be amended, almost two years after the games opened on Aug. 8, 2008.
In another doping case Friday, cycling's governing body was studying a Slovenian ruling that rejected biological passport evidence that rider Tadej Valjavec used banned drugs.
The UCI said it must first translate the judgment by Slovenia's anti-doping organization, which on Thursday declined to sanction Valjavec. The UCI could appeal to CAS.
Valjavec was one of three riders identified in a second round of cases brought under the UCI's pioneering anti-doping passport program, along with Jesus Rosendo and Franco Pellizotti.
On Friday, the Italian Olympic committee's anti-doping prosecutor recommended a two-year ban for Pellizotti.