The Tour de France 2008 will be preceded by a flurry of crucial court rulings for cycling next week – from the final verdict for Floyd Landis to Michael Rasmussen?s penalty for lying in his whereabouts documents and his case against unfair dismissal.

Nearly two years after the event, the final verdict on who actually won the 2006 Tour de France will be delivered by the Court of Arbitration for Sport [CAS] on Monday.

Floyd Landis appealed to CAS after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) ruled that the American had used artificial testosterone during the Tour de France 2006. Landis lost the Tour victory as a result – and the win went to Spaniard Oscar Pereiro instead.

A hearing for Landis appeal to CAS after the USADA ruling was held in March this spring in New York, and a final, definitive verdict on the case was expected this week. However, CAS have announced that that it will actually make public its decision on Monday afternoon.

After the months of legal wrangling, the verdict comes just days before the Tour 2008 starts in Brest – just the publicity the race needs in a year when it was trying for a new start.

But that’s far from being all on the legal front next week. The Floyd Landis verdict comes a mere 24 hours before a decision will be taken on what kind of suspension to give Michael Rasmussen for having lied on his whereabouts documents prior to last year?s Tour de France.

Registered with the Monaco Cycling Federation – where 2007 Tour leader Rasmussen lives – the case was heard on May 25th. Although aiming for a comeback, he risks up to two years ban.

Whatever the penalty, Rasmussen may yet have some cause for celebration on the Wednesday, depending on another court ruling – in Holland.

Rasmussen has brought a case against Rabobank for unfair dismissal, and has reportedly sued them for 5.5 million euros in damages. The Dane was sacked by Rabobank during last year?s Tour for lying over his whereabouts – but Rasmussen claims the Dutch team knew where he was. A verdict is expected on Wednesday from a court in Utrecht, Holland.

As if that was not enough court cases to be going on with, today [Friday] Belgian Bjorn Leukemans? two year ban for doping with testosterone – which he received from the Flemish Disciplinary Council (FDC) – has been upheld.

Leukemans, a former Silence-Lotto rider, had appealed against the ban to a higher court, which suspended the two year sentence. But the FDC then re-heard the case and this Friday three new judges came to the same conclusion – that Leukemans?s sanction was the right one.

The case is important because had Leukemans appeal succeeded, then a legal precedent could have been established, and other Belgian riders could have tried to avoid bans for doping by appealing to a higher court. However, Leukemans has made another appeal against the second ruling.

Lastly, a verdict on Iban Mayo?s appeal against his alleged positive for EPO in last year?s Tour may well be made public soon. The Spaniard returned one positive ?A? test for EPO from a Paris laboratory and a second ?B? test with an unclear result from Belgium. A third test then confirmed the original result. The Spaniard has appealed to CAS over the case.

Cycling?s week in the courts

Friday June 27th – Bjorne Leukemans positive for testerone – rider gets two years.

Monday June 30th – Floyd Landis final appeal over 2006 Tour – risks definitive loss of Tour title.

Tuesday July 1st – Michael Rasmussen and his whereabouts case – risks two year ban

Wednesday July 2nd – Michael Rasmussen versus Rabobank – team risk 5.5 million euro [4 million pound] payout

Pending: Iban Mayo and alleged EPO use – risks two year ban

TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE

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