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Confusion over Hamilton B results


story.hamilton.afp.jpg
Hamilton is the latest high profile cyclist to face doping allegations.

ZURICH, Switzerland -- The Phonak team have confirmed that one of two 'B' tests from Olympic champion Tyler Hamilton appears to have found him guilty of doping.

Hamilton gave a positive first test for a blood transfusion in Athens on August 18 and another positive 'A' test after winning a time trial in the Tour of Spain this month.

The Tour of Spain 'B' test was also positive, but the 'B' test carried out after his time trial gold in Athens was negative, which means he will keep his gold medal.

As a result, the IOC said it had dropped its investigation into the case.

"The disciplinary procedure has had to be stopped because of the non-conclusive result. The IOC will not be pursuing sanctions," said a spokesman.

Arnie Ljungqvist, head of the IOC's medical commission, told reporters that it had been a mistake to deep-freeze Hamilton's B sample from Athens.

"The blood sample was unfortunately destroyed. It should not have been deep frozen (in the laboratory).

"It was human error, caused by the unusual workload that prevailed during the Olympics... because there were three new tests introduced for the Athens Games and because the number of overall samples during the Olympic period was increased by 50 percent.

"Here we have a case where the A sample was deemed clearly positive by a panel of outside experts and was also agreed upon by the chief of the laboratory.

"But then we have the B analysis... the rules are clear, legally such a case will be deemed negative because the A (test) did not confirm the B."

Although Phonak suspended the American on Wednesday, the Swiss team have said he will remain on the team until "clarity" is achieved.

The team said it planned to set up a "scientific board" to check the reliability of the test method, which was introduced only this year.

The 33-year-old Hamilton said on Tuesday he was 100 percent innocent of the charges against him.

Cycling's ruling body, the UCI, has so far made no official announcement on either test result.

Hamilton could be banned for two years, effectively ending his career, if the UCI officially declares that he is guilty of doping offences in the Tour of Spain. If found guilty he would be the first athlete to be caught having a blood transfusion.

Hamilton finished fourth in the 2003 Tour de France despite breaking his collar bone in a crash at the end of the first stage.

He used to support Lance Armstrong on the U.S. Postal team before leaving in 2001 to become team leader with CSC Tiscali.


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