Contador Ruling – Justice?

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Okay, it’s a little hard to write about a puny little road race in the mountains outside San Diego when the Contador ruling comes out. So, here’s a little of my thoughts on Contador and I’ll post the Boulevard road race later.

Contador’s 2 year ban was really surprising to me. There were tons of things wrong with the whole thing. The main thing wrong was the duration it took to get to this point. I’ve written it before here, the time involves almost is enough to give him a get-out-of-jail-free card. Andy Schleck said it took 566 days. I don’t know if that is actually correct, but whatever it was it is stupid. I don’t know if it was the process or Contador’s lawyers or what that made the process so drawn out, but ultimately the process was flawed.

I remember talking to Chris Horner about Contador’s case at a cross race here in San Diego in November. Chris told him in would nearly guarantee that Contador would get off. He said for sure. And he had some pretty good points backing up his belief. He said something about a whole soccer team in Mexico turning up positive for Clenbuterol. Then he said the the UCI had told the riders that were doing the Pro Tour event, Tour of China, that they shouldn’t ingest the meat at the race because of the risk of a Clenbuterol positive. Chris, in my opinion, is one super smart bike racer. He nearly had me convinced. But, obviously, that wasn’t the case.

Everyone that is speaking out, mainly the other Spanish riders, Andy Schleck and such, seem to still be in Alberto’s camp. It goes to show you that he must be pretty much liked in the inner cycling circles, which is nice, but not really pertinent. What was pertinent was that he had a trace of Clenbuterol in his body during the Tour de France. I have a line draw in the sand with in comes to doping. Sorry, he crossed it, so he needs to serve his time out.

But what kind of time out is it? I don’t understand how his 2 year ban is done on August 5th, before the start of the Vuelta this year. He’s been racing the whole time. Isn’t a two year ban actually 2 years of not racing? Seems like this one is 6 months of actually not racing. Seems weird and wrong.

Whatever the fallout of this whole thing, I can only hope that the process somehow is addressed and is made to seem more believable. This whole procedure was flawed on many levels. So many levels that it seems like they need to maybe start all over again and try to make one that legitimatizes final ruling. This ruling is going to leave a bad taste in a lot of folks mouths, no matter which side you were on originally.

Alberto will have most of the summer to listen to tunes this season, but can get back to racing in the fall.

15 thoughts on “Contador Ruling – Justice?

  1. Richard Wharton

    Read Dan Rosen (Rant your head off) and post some comments there. I’m left believing that thresholds should exist, and that the whole process should be public. The CAS is a star chamber.

  2. Scott

    He had been preliminarily suspended after the positive test came out and was suspended until the Spanish reinstated him. That was about 5+ months of no racing. So that with the 6+ months this year would make about 1 year served. The rest is removing his results, so he raced but his name will be removed like the Tour did with (ironically enough) Riis.

  3. Ed Morris

    Steve: those cases you sighted were in Mexico and
    China, where the use of Clenbuterol in animal feed is still rampant. What CAS and WADA didn’t buy in on was Alberto’s argument that meat in the Euro Zone is still contaminted. It’s been banned for years and spot testing shows it to be almost non existent. If he was doing the Tour of China and came up positive he probably would have been given a by. But his argument fell flat in Europe. As for the time, he loses his Tour and Giro titles, that’s tough to give up, even if he’s been racing all this time. And he and the team will have to give up all the prize money. So in the end it may be a fair deal, more or less. But one thing for sure, the ruling goes a long way in shoring up WADA’s power.

  4. Channel_zero

    Richard Wharton,

    For Clenbuterol, no threshold is necessary. It does not occur naturally in the environment, especially in the EU/industrialized West.

    ProTour riders spending nearly all their time in the EU when they aren’t in Tenerife evading testing. There is no clenbuterol worry.

    Threshold amounts for clenbuterol is another tiny step to enabling the use of harmful to human chemicals in our meat supplies in places in the world with good working food safety systems.

    For the few tested athletes reading this blog, clenbuterol is used to improve yield in all livestock and chicken in some parts of the world. (Mexico and China being to very visible recent examples)

  5. Zach

    The problem with clen and livestock is the same one as for doping in general and cyclists. The incentive is very high and the likelihood of getting caught low.
    I was all for contador going down initially, however, the other athletes being let off, the german study on travelers abroad, and the spanish clenbuterol livestock ring that was busted shortly thereafter, let there be reasonable doubt in my mind.
    Did contador dope…quite possibly, however enough doubt was there that I couldnt (with available info) feel good proclaiming him guilty. You just cant have a silly rule like “no matter what goes into your body your screwed”, if its ubiquitous and then unknown until you get a positive.
    There has to be some kind (and it may have occurred idk what happened) of rationalizing and use of common sense, and clenbuterol while it definitely can and does get abused…certainly needs to be better defined.

  6. Channel_zero


    You are making it up as you go along.

    The incentive to use clen in the west is zero. A supplier would be out of business if they attempted to use clen and somehow get by regulators.

  7. Mark

    10 different riders could test positive for the same thing, at the same race, with exactly the same amount detected. You would get 10 different stories, 10 different sanctions passed down by the rider’s national governing body, 10 different length cases spanning anywhere from a week to 2 years, eventually resulting in 10 different sanctions handed down by either the UCI, WADA, and/or CAS. Crazy stuff.

  8. JimW

    If they all go vegan that’s fine but the PEDs will still turn up in samples from time to time. Vegetables are terrible masking agents.

  9. Zach

    What’s being made up? As long as money is involved people will have incentive to cheat. You act like I said most ranchers are giving it to their livestock. And just as people overestimate the frequency of testing in cycling, you likely are overestimating testing in agriculture. It would only take one rancher to give contador hope, and that certainly exists. This is not synonymous with innocence. Likely what happened was somewhat akin to Occams razor appropriately applied.

    Your argument could just as well be used in cycling, etc..there’s no incentive, but it still happens.
    What of the athletes in Mexico/central/south America, china, etc…they all have to be vegetarians as suggested?
    This may be a few years ago, but was in us, and goes to show.

    The usda’s updated (jan, 2012) beta-adrenergic screening manual. It’s seems to be not so trivial it’s screened for.

  10. John

    All the fuss is only because it CONTADOR, nobody remembers de Chinese rider Li (Radioshack) or the italian neo-pro (forgot his name) from Farnese Vini, both of them suspended for 2 years. Li = CHINESE = contaminated meat and the italian was caught in a south-american race. come on. Both of these riders we will probably never see again in the pro peloton. While Mr.Contador gets a 2 year ban that really is only a 6 months ban. And will be in the pro peloton for many more years. Now I have nothing againt AC but the it is clear that the rullings are not impartial.

  11. Andrew

    @ Zach: No incentive? Umm, how about money? I think that is the main reason most professional athletes, not just cyclists, choose to dope.

  12. Lissa

    Hi, Steve – Just found your website. Good stuff. One point on the possibility of contamination in the Eurozone – even if European agricultural agencies have been 100% successful eliminating clenbuterol from European meat, that doesn’t mean there is no contaminated meat in Europe. Are you aware of the ongoing olive oil scandal in Italy? Selling cheap (and sometimes toxic) blends as 100% EVOO; importing olives and selling the oil as 100% Italian, etc.: Here’s a link (I hope links are OK).

    Is it possible that the same breed of rogue scoundrels are illegally importing meat. I think it is possible – especially in a region that is under a lot of economic pressure. Not sure what the odds are, but I think there are odds…

  13. Noel

    Eddie Merckx was quoted as saying that the ruling was bad for the sport. I think knows a thing or two about the history of such things in cycling.


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