CAS hopes to rule on Hamilton case by the end of the year

The Court of Arbitration for Sport hopes to reach a decision on U.S. cyclist Tyler Hamilton's appeal of a blood doping suspension by the end of the year or the beginning of 2006.

A first hearing was held in Denver on Sept. 6-8 but, because not all the evidence could be presented at the time, it was decided to suspend the session and resume it at a later date.

Olympic gold medalist Hamilton asked CAS to overturn an April 18 decision by the independent American Arbitration Association to suspend him for a blood doping violation.

Hamilton has consistently denied any doping violation and has criticized the testing method used by UCI, cycling's international governing body. He announced in April that he would appeal to CAS.

It was the first case that questioned the test designed to detect the presence of someone else's red blood cells. A blood transfusion can increase endurance by providing extra oxygen-carrying red blood cells.

Hamilton tested positive on Sept. 11, 2004, during the Spanish Vuelta, a month after he won the time trial gold medal at the Athens Olympics.

His initial blood sample in Athens also tested positive, but that case was dropped because his backup specimen - or B sample - was mistakenly frozen and could not be analyzed.

Hamilton, considered a possible American successor to seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, was fired by the Swiss-based Phonak team in November. He is eligible to return to competition in April 2007.

But since Pro Tour ethics rules require a doubling of penalties - and Hamilton's suspension came after the adoption of the new tour - the American could be ineligible to take part in most of the world's biggest races until 2009, AP reports.

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