Ominous signs: Pellizotti confident, Testa lukewarm.
Two disturbing signals:
The former Polka Dot, Franco Pellizotti is confident enought of a win at the Court for Arbitration for Sport that he fully expects to race Tirreno-Adriatico next Tuesday.
“I want to ride Tirreno: in the last few weeks I’ve been training as if I was about to start a race,” Pellizotti told Gazzetta dello Sport. The guy is already standing in from of the mirror modeling his new Movistar kit.
This was after his marathon session at CAS in Lausanne, Switzerland. Pellizotti and his anti-doping lawyer Rocco Taminelli sound awfully confident they’ve punched enough holes in the UCI’s Biological Passport to win the case.
“We clarified our position and we repeated that we want the sentence issued by the Tribunale Nazionale Anti-doping to be upheld and our legal costs repaid,” Taminelli told Gazzetta dello Sport. Note the assured and agressive tone — he not only thinks they’re going to win, he’s already working on damages.
Pellizotti and Taminelli also fast tracked the hearing — which tells is they think they have all bases covered and the odds stacked in their favor. Shit headed for fans.
You know things are critical for the UCI and the passport because they sent not three or fouth or five but six experts to explain Pellizotti’s blood parameter variations. This is the come-to-Jesus meeting and if the UCI loses, the passport heads back to the drawing board and the inmates go free. Even Davide Rebellin will crawl back into the sport.
The second ominous sign for the Biological Passort was yesterday’s comments by the respected Max Testa. Now the BMC team doctor is a big supporter of the passport but to read his quotes, he clearly believes the tool is open to major interpetation — and maybe not ready for prime time.
“The main concern I have as a physician is that the variation [of blood values] can be huge. We don’t know what the variability is in this specific population [professional cyclists], as they train a lot and travel a lot, so maybe their variations are not exactly the same as those of average people,’ said Testa.
If we’re Pellizotti’s lawyer, you read that with glee and make sure that CAS gets the transcript. Testa isn’t some crackpot university scientist who just wants some ink for dissing the passport — this is somebody who believes in it. When even suppoters admit the passport is still a work in progress, then Pellizotti goes free. You can’t ruin a man’s career for maybes.
“I’m not sure if I would use the [biological passport] parameters to say a guy is doing something,” said Testa. “You cannot use it to judge in and of itself, but it’s an extra way to approach the problem.” Well, that sure sounds like a get-out-of-jail card to us.
Pellizotti hopes to have a verdict before Wednesday. It will be an explosive decision and should Pellizotti win, there will be some intriguing fall-out. The UCI may may be forced to give up contesting the decision by the Spanish Cycling Federation to absolve Alberto COntador of doping charges.
If they can’t nail Pellizotti, Contador’s case only gets stronger.