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Hans Knauss hires American lawyer and vows to sue Connecticut supplement producer

Hans Knauss hires American lawyer and vows to sue Connecticut supplement producerHans Knauss is coming to America.

The Austrian downhiller has hired a prominent American sports lawyer and is moving forward with his plan to sue a Connecticut-based company that he says provided him with contaminated nutritional supplements. Knauss was suspended last season after testing positive for traces of nandrolone, an anabolic steroid.

‘I will sue the company, Ultimate Nutrition, because that was the beginning of the problem’ Knauss told Ski Racing on Wednesday.

Knauss has retained Howard Jacobs, a Los Angeles attorney who often represents athletes snared in doping-related court cases. Jacobs’s other clients include Tim Montgomery and Tyler Hamilton.

‘We’re just getting started on it’ Jacobs said on Wednesday. ‘I’ve already sued this company now and prevailed.’

Last year Jacobs represented Kicker Vencill, a Californian swimmer who failed a drug test, was suspended from his sport and sued Ultimate Nutrition. The case went to court, where a jury awarded Vencill $578,000.

Jacobs expects the stakes to be much higher in the case of Hans Knauss, who enjoyed a much higher profile within his sport. Knauss won a silver medal in the 1998 Olympic super G and seven World Cup races. In 1999, he won the Hahnenkamm, the sport’s most prestigious race, making him a hero in Austria, where ski racing is the national sport.

‘Kicker Vencill didn’t have nearly the earnings history that Hans Knauss does’ said Jacobs. ‘The Knauss case is exponentially bigger.’

Knauss retired in July when the Court of Arbitration for Sport refused to reduce his FIS-imposed suspension from 18 months to 12, which would have made him eligible for competition in the 2005-2006 season.

‘It’s over now’ Knauss said in a feature story in Ski Racing magazine this summer. ‘The FIS cancelled all my points. This is the problem. If I come back, I start with nothing. Especially with the Austrian team, it’s hard to get the spot.’

Documents from Knauss’s CAS hearing show that he used ‘super complete capsules’ the same product Vencill used. Both Vencill and Knauss tested positive for similar levels of 19-norandrosterone, a relative of nandrolone.

Knauss contacted Vencill in early October, telling the swimmer of his plight. ‘That was some shocking information’ Vencill told Ski Racing.

‘I called him two weeks ago and he was really nice to me’ said Knauss.

Knauss will work as a commentator this year for ORF, the Austrian national television broadcaster.

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