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Spanish rider Inigo Landaluze will escape sanctions despite testing positive for the male hormone testosterone after winning the 2005 Dauphine Libere because of irregularities in the analysis.
Landaluze's Euskaltel-Euskado team and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Wednesday the UCI's appeal against the decision of the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) to acquit the rider had been rejected.
Although CAS dismissed most of the arguments given by the rider, it did accept there had been an error in the analysis procedure carried out by a laboratory in France [Images].
"It has been indeed established that the person who conducted the analysis of the B sample was also involved in the analysis of the A sample, thus in violation of the international standard applicable to accredited laboratories," CAS said in a statement on its web site (www.tas-cas.org).
"The Panel has considered that the non-compliance with this standard constituted a procedural flaw serious enough to cause the invalidation of the anti-doping test."
The CAS statement added that the error had been due to the heavy workload in the laboratory and the decision did not mean that Landaluze's name had been cleared.
"Even though Inigo Landaluze benefited from this flawed procedure to be acquitted, the CAS decision does not constitute a declaration of his innocence," said the statement.
Landaluze was the surprise winner of the eight-day Dauphine Libere race in 2005, finishing ahead of favourites such as Santiago Botero, Levi Leipheimer and Lance Armstrong [Images].
Tour de France winner Floyd Landis, who tested positive for excessive amounts of the male sex hormone testosterone after a decisive stage of the Tour, responded quickly.
"The CAS decision to clear Inigo Landaluze of testosterone doping charges on the basis of violations of testing procedure by the [Laboratoire National de Depistage du Dopage] LNDD strengthens my contention that the tests conducted on my sample were handled in an incompetent fashion and analyzed on the basis of flawed science," the American said in a statement.
"The track record of scientific misconduct at Chatenay-Malabry seems to grow by the day."
The former Phonak rider's case will be heard early next year by a U.S. panel of judges.
(Additional reporting by Julien Pretot in Paris)
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