Hearing due to be held in June with decision made before end of that month

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has announced the composition of the three-man panel that will hear the appeals of the UCI and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against Alberto Contador’s acquittal by the Spanish national federation, the RFEC, of charges brought against him following his positive test for clenbuterol at last year’s Tour de France. In news that will be welcomed by Tour organisers ASO, CAS also revealed that it plans making a decision by the end of June, and therefore shortly before this year’s race starts on Saturday 2nd July.

The three men appointed to the panel are the Israeli, Efraim Barak, who will act as president, Quentin Byrne-Sutton of Switzerland, and Professor Ulrich Haas from Germany. While the president is selected by CAS, the other two members are each appointed by the parties to the case in question.

Contador’s defence team has chosen Professor Haas, who teaches at the University of Zurich, and who according to Associated Press has experience of cases involving clenbuterol and last year sat on the panel that banned Alejandro Valverde for two years.

Byrne-Sutton, a partner in the Geneva-based law firm Byrne-Sutton Bollen Kern, also has wide experience of serving as an arbitrator in cases brought before CAS and has been jointly appointed by the UCI and WADA, each of which will be entitled to present separate evidence before the panel.

According to CAS, “The written proceedings in this matter are likely to be concluded at the end of May and the CAS envisages to hold a hearing in June 2011, which would allow the settlement of the dispute before the end of June 2011. The hearing date will be published once it has been fixed.”

The cyclist, now with Saxo Bank-SunGard but riding for Astana in last year’s Tour, has always insisted that his positive test was due to his having eaten a contaminated steak.

In February, the RFEC surprised the cycling world by exonerating the cyclist of charges of doping just a week after it had been reported that the federation planned to give him a one-year ban. At the time, concerns were raised that the RFEC had been subject to undue influence from politicians including the Spanish prime minister.

Should the panel rule in favour of the UCI and WADA, it is expected that Contador will lose the Tour de France title he won last year, his third overall victory in the race, and that he will also forfeit the wins and prize money he has picked up since returning to racing in February.

The Spaniard, who next week leads Saxo Bank-SunGard in the Giro d’Italia, would become only the second man after Floyd Landis to be stripped of the Tour de France title after standing on the Champs-Elysees podium in the maillor jaune.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.