Case law CAS in favor of Nils Eekhoff

Nils Eekhoff is the only rider entitled to the world title cycling U23.

World Championships Cycling U23: Doncaster-Harrogate 171 km.

Cause: Winner Nils Eekhoff was disqualified after the WK2019 in Harrogate.

Explanation UCI: “The rider was disqualified for hiding behind a vehicle (4.7 of article 2.12.007) for more than two minutes. The maximum penalty was applied because of the long duration. The decision was made by the panel of jury members after the race based on images from a moto camera that was available to the UCI video commissioner. Race officials have reviewed the images and followed the correct procedure by hearing the rider and the team before they made the decision. “

The analysis:

1. 160 riders started in their race for the world title in Yorkshire (UK)

2. The Dutchman Nils Eekhoff started as one of them as one of the favorites for the title.

3. Eekhoff crashed hard after 50 km. He was injured in this incident and he put his shoulder back “in the bowl”. The race lasted for a long time, about 125 km.

4. The peloton with all competitors continued to thunder. To have a chance to win the title, Eekhoff couldn’t do anything but fight back to the pack. He did that by driving behind the team car from the Netherlands to the last car or the caravan.

5. This chase has cost Eekhoff a lot of power. There are 2 scenarios about the role of the jury during this chase: 1. A jury member who witnessed this chase has ruled that it was legitimate given the circumstances (serious crash early in the race) and saw no reason for Eekhoff and the warn or punish the team leader. Or 2. No member of the jury has seen anything or this pursuit.

6. Because of being a favourite to win, Eekhoff was followed during his pursuit by an experienced motard with cameraman. The account in GvA by Belgian Marnik Vansevenant, the motard that Eekhoff followed in his pursuit with the cameraman on his motorcycle. “The images came from our motorcycle, I rode with the cameraman on the back,” said Vansevenant. “I’ve been in the peloton for 41 years. I don’t want to feed the thousands who, after a breakdown or fall, rightly on human resources to the place where they were before their incident. I was not 20 meters away from that boy yesterday during his chase. A small bottle-collé and using the team as a car is what he did to take his place in the peloton after miles of chase. So what! “” He was counted among the favorites, our director (not the UCI, etc.), rightly decided that we would stay with him to show his return and then this. What will this be if we appear with our camera the following days and something happens to be a top favorite on Sunday? As a supporter, we don’t want to know how he is hurt or not, fighting is back to regain his place. You fought like a lion Nils, congratulations Champ. “

7. This motard found Eekhoff’s action legitimate. Given the years of experience of this man, it can be assumed that this pursuit was not a unique event in cycling. Mr. Vansevenant therefore also judged that Eekhoff was not blamed.

8. In fact, afterwards, Nils Eekhoff is severely disadvantaged because he has been individually made of camera images. And that the jury uses these images afterwards (more than 3 hours after the crash and pursuit by Eekhoff) for improper use to impose the most extreme sanction imaginable. The UCI states that the images were available to the video commissioner. However, these images were not commissioned by the UCI for “jury use”. If that had been the case, the jury would have had to act immediately during the competition. The fact that the UCI received these images does not mean that they could use them more than 3 hours later to punish them.

9. The UCI regulations are very unclear about “staying” (hiding behind the car). Apart from fines, the jury may, in serious cases, in cases of repeated infringement or aggravating circumstances, eliminate or disqualify a rider. It is not specified what “serious” or “aggravating” is. This unclear rule is therefore arbitrary. The decision to disqualify Eekhoff was taken by a panel of jury members consisting of commissioners from various countries including two members with Italian and British nationality. The disqualification of Eekhoff had major consequences for these countries. An Italian Samuele Battistelli was declared the winner and the British Thomas Pidcock became third instead of fourth. The role of the jury in this case must be called into question in the interest of the credibility of cycling.

10. The UCI jury has therefore not found the alleged violation during the race. Both Eekhoff and his team leader were therefore not warned during his pursuit. According to the general rules of CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport), this is mandatory for many sports associations before a jury can proceed to disqualification.

11. The most important argument for reversing the disqualification is the fact that Eekhoff has not harmed its competitors in any way. There are three categories of measures that can be imposed by sports federations in CAS case law. The first (and in this case only relevant) category (relevant in this case) is disqualification. It’s about losing an athlete’s results, medals, points and prizes. This type of sanction is specified in Article 10.1 of the WADC. In CAS 2007 / O / 1381, the panel notes that the sanction for the loss of sporting results “is primarily motivated by the need to ensure equal opportunities for competitors.” In this case, it is abundantly clear that Eekhoff did not benefit in any way from his crash and the pursuit, as he had a very disadvantage compared to his competitors, since there was no more favorable chance of it. Dozens of riders can confirm that returning after a crash is in no way Nils Eekhoff should be able to receive his gold medal on the basis of this case law of the CAS.

12. Eekhoff has continued his competition without reservation. This greatly influenced the course of the competition and, as a result of the sanction, unequal chances for competitors. All involved riders would have driven a totally different final without the presence of Nils Eekhoff.

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