American football players have aligned themselves with the supporters of skier Andrus Veerpalu in a legal victory against the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
"Rarely will an Estonian Nordic skiing champion be hailed by the stars of American football, but that's exactly what happened Tuesday after a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)," writes AFP.
The court overturned a three-year doping ban from 2011 due to procedural flaws in WADA's growth hormone test. Although the court maintained that WADA's test was reliable, and insisted that data indicated Veerpalu had in fact broken anti-doping rules, backers of Veerpalu said that, in the end, the test is not reliable.
According to AFP, an association representing football players has been fighting an initiative to adopt human growth hormone testing by the NFL, saying the test was not scientifically valid.
An Unexplained Assertion
"[T]here were many factors in this case which tend to indicate that Andrus Veerpalu did in fact himself administer exogenous [human growth hormone]," yesterday's CAS media statement said.
One of the researchers on Veerpalu's defense team, Krista Fischer, who is a senior researcher for the Estonian Genome Center, spoke to ETV about the assertion.
"That sentence in the press release from CAS came as a big surprise to me because it was left hovering in the air. It was not explained in the press release or in the decision itself. So what were these factors? Right now the only numbers that seem to hint at doping are the same four numbers that have been deemed invalid by the ruling [...] Our research in this process was not novel, but what may be considered notable is that an organization such as CAS, first of all, accepted such a long and serious scientific discussion, and secondly, it listened to our arguments and took them into account in the ruling."
Meanwhile on Tuesday, WADA said it was disappointed by the ruling and that it would release a thorough analysis of the precedent. The organization's communication director told ETV: "Although CAS acknowledges that the growth hormone test is reliable, WADA is concerned by CAS's conclusions about the applicable normal values. The growth hormone test has been developed by the field's leading experts and it has already been applied in several cases."