May 17th, 2013

Scandalous sentence for cyclist killer

Gary McCourt was found guilty of causing the death of Audrey Fyfe, 75, in August 2011 by careless driving. He was sentenced to only 300 hours of community service and a 5-year driving ban.  This was not McCourt’s first conviction for causing the death of a cyclist, McCourt having been previously sentenced to a two-year custodial sentence for the 1985 killing of cyclist of George Dalgity in a hit and run incident.

Audrey Fyfe, a lifelong cyclist, was found by Sheriff Scott to bear no blame at all for the accident, but Sheriff Scott – taking account of matters of no legal relevance and without hearing expert medical evidence – decided that by not wearing a helmet, Audrey Fyfe contributed towards her own death.

The sentence has caused a public outcry and we share the Cyclists’ Touring Club’s (CTC) view in their letter to the Lord Advocate ( that proper regard to the issues in this case would place McCourt’s driving at the more serious end of causing death by careless driving and that the sentence handed down on 3rd May 2013 was unduly lenient in all the circumstance.

We have joined with the family to support their request for an appeal of the sentence imposed.  Audrey’s daughter, Aileen Brown asks:

How can the courts believe that a temporary restriction in [McCourt’s] choice of transport is an appropriate punishment for taking yet another life?  [McCourt] has inflicted a lifetime sentence of irreplaceable loss on our family and friends.  Sadly, mum won’t be back in 5 years’ time.  Our lives will never be the same …. The Sheriff also stated that in his opinion, mum not wearing a helmet contributed to her death.  Wearing a helmet is not a legal requirement.   If McCourt had hit a pedestrian, would the Sheriff have suggested they too should have been wearing a helmet?

If you wish to support the campaign for a stronger sentence for McCourt please follow this link:

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June 14th, 2012

Lance Armstrong Charged with Doping by USADA

Any hope Lance Armstrong had of a quiet life after the US Attorney’s federal investigation into him was dropped, looks to have been scuppered for the foreseeable future.  USADA have given Lance Armstrong, Dr Michele Ferrari and Johan Bruneel amongst others notice that formal action is to be taken against them for alleged violations of anti-doping rules.  Here’s a link to the letter of intended action sent by USADA:


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February 6th, 2012

CAS Contador decision published

The Court of Arbitration for Sport today published its decision in the Alberto Contador case (  In summary, the panel concluded that:

a) Contador’s positive test for clenbuterol is more likely to have been caused by the ingestion of a contaminated food supplement than by a blood transfusion or the ingestion of contaminated meat;

b) no evidence had been adduced proving that Contador acted with no fault or negligence or no significant fault or negligence;

c) a two year period of ineligibility has been imposed on Contador running as of 25.01.2011.

Contador is therefore stripped of his last Tour and Giro titles, which now pass to Andy Schleck and Michele Scarponi respectively.  Contador’s ban will end in time for him to compete at this year’s Vuelta.  The CAS will in due course determine the appropriate fine to impose and also deal with the question of costs.

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January 19th, 2012

CAS decision in Contador case delayed again!

WADA’s appeal of the decision by the Spanish federation in Alberto Contador’s case was finally heard in November 2011.  The delays in these proceedings have been widely criticised and a decision was initially expected mid-January 2012.  The CAS decided to delay the publication of the decision in order that the parties may raise any challenge to the composition of the arbitral panel.  Neither side is understood to have challenged the constitution of the panel at the appeal hearing itself.  The CAS adopted this course in response to a recent report in the Associated Press that WADA lawyers accused the arbitral panel of not being impartial after they refused to hear testimony from their doping expert Michael Ashenden.  The wait continues ….



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July 13th, 2011

2011 Tour de France

This year’s Tour de France is at its halfway point at the time of writing and 2011 is shaping up to be a vintage year.  Christian Prudhomme’s route has kept the racing fierce and the fans on the edge of their seats.  The race is almost as intense from a sports lawyer’s perspective. 

A cloud hangs over Alberto Contador’s head following his positive test for clenbuterol at last year’s Tour.  The hearing of the UCI’s appeal to the CAS was due to be heard in early June, but has now been adjourned to early August and Contador is free to race in the meantime.  If the UCI appeal is upheld then Contador faces a 2 year ban and the loss of his results since his positive test, including last year’s TdF title, his 2011 Giro d’Italia win and his result in the 2011 TdF (which, if his knee holds out, could well be another win).

The TdF has thrown up its first doping positive with the announcement yesterday of Alexandr Kolobnev’s positive test for the diuretic and masking agent hydrochlorothiazide.  Doping is a criminal offence in France, so beyond facing disciplinary proceedings by his national federation, the boys en bleu have started a criminal investigation.  Kolobnev’s name has already cropped up earlier this year in the Padova investigation in Italy.   

Crashes are simply an inevitable feature of cycle racing and it is exceptionally difficult for an injured rider to establish a legal liability for injuries sustained in competition.  Perhaps the best know rider against rider claim was Claude Criquielion’s (ultimately unsuccessful) legal action against Steve Bauer for damages of $1.5M following the tangle in the sprint for the 1988 World Championship Road Race that took them both out of contention and gifted the win to the then little-known Maurzio Fondriest. 

Most of the incidents at this year’s TdF are no exception and from a legal perspective would be seen as part of the rough and tumble of professional road racing.  Hypothetically, two incidents do however stand out as potentially actionable (although legal action is rare in the absence of career-ending injury).  The first is the incident on the stage to Cap when a race photographer’s motorbike knocked Nicki Sorensen from his bike.  The motorbike is said to have dragged Sorensen’s bicycle for a kilometre before the motorbike rider realised what had happened. 

The second – and more serious – incident involved a French TV car that knocked Juan Antonio Flecha and Johnny Hoogerland off their bikes in a truly horrifying incident in the run in to the finish on the stage to Sant-Flour (  Hoogerland was left with deep lacerations, requiring 30 stitches.  If you are squeamish, do not open this link! (  Demonstrating considerable fortitude, Hoogerland finished the stage and continues to hold the climber’s jersey.  Chapeau!

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April 11th, 2011

Death by dangerous cycling

In a rather curious move, the government is looking to introduce a new offence of causing death by dangerous cycling, despite there appearing to be little, if indeed, any statistical support for the need for such a new offence to be created.     

The last official road death statistics (compiled in 2009) recorded no deaths to pedestrians as a result of collisions with cyclists.  Between 1998 and 2007 there were never more than 5 pedestrian deaths per year as a result of collision with cyclists, although it is important to emphasise that the official statistics simply deal with the number of deaths resulting from collisions with cyclists and not the number of deaths where the cyclist was at fault.  In how many of these cases was the pedestrian at fault?  Were they prosecuted?  The statistics demonstrate that deaths to pedestrians as a result of collisions with cyclists are very rare indeed.  There also seems a dearth of evidence that there is actually a problem with the criminal law as it stands (s.35 of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861) that needs addressing.

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March 16th, 2011

Brodie & Co Welsh Borders Hardriders Series

With three of the five races in the series now decided, David Williams of Fibrax Wrexham RC has sealed overall victory in the men’s category with wins in each of the events so far.  The fight for the rest of the podium continues.  Rob MacDonald has consolidated his lead in the veteran’s category, as too Suzanne MacDonald the ladies category.  Rob and Suzanne could secure their series titles if they can better their rivals and win their respective categories at this weekend’s classic Fibrax Wrexham RC mountain time trial, which takes in the Horseshoe Pass and Nant-y-Garth pass in North Wales.

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February 16th, 2011

UCI’s New Approval Protocol

The UCI’s new Approval Protocol for new bike frames and forks came into effect on 01.01.2011. Manufacturers are now required to part with £7,800 plus V.A.T per design to obtain UCI approval for new designs. Approved designs go on the UCI’s online approved list and have to wear a ‘UCI Approved’ sticker (the placement of said sticker on the approved design being another matter the UCI dictate).  To put it mildly the UCI’s bold claim that the Approval Protocol is a ‘service’ to manufacturers, licence holders, teams, commissaires and ‘the sport of cycling in general’ is unlikely to be seen in that light by those subject to it.

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