"Second failed test" for Alberto Contador could spell bad news for TDF champ

New York Times reports sample with traces of plastcizers taken day before clenbuterol one

by Simon_MacMichael   October 5, 2010  

Alberto Contador press conference (picture - Eurosport).png

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador’s fight to clear his name following his positive test for clenbuterol may be set to become even more difficult than it already was following news that he failed a second drugs test during July’s race.

The claim has been made by The New York Times, which says that a new test, introduced in the Tour de France for the first time this year, had detected traces of plasticizers found in plastic IV bags, suggesting evidence of a blood transfusion.

While that claim had already been made by French sports daily L’Equipe as well as the German TV channel which first uncovered the story, it had been assumed that the plasticizers were contained in the sample taken from Contador at the second rest day in Pau that also showed minute traces of clenbuterol.

Not so, says the New York Times, which quotes “a person with knowledge of the test results” as saying that the plasticizers, at a level eight times higher than the legal limit, have been discovered in a sample taken from the cyclist the previous day.

If it’s true that Contador has recorded a second positive result for a different substance – and, moreover, one for which there is a minimum level that has been well exceeded – that places him in a much more difficult position.

The cyclist has claimed that the clenbuterol found its way into his urine as a result of his having eaten contaminated meat, and given the infinitesimal amount of clenbuterol involved – there is no legal threshold required to test positive for the substance – many have been prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

A second failed test would cast doubt on Contador’s protestations of innocence, particularly given the fact that since news broke last week of his positive test for clenbuterol, the Astana rider has maintained that the fact none of the other samples taken from him at the Tour de France have contained traces of anything untoward.

While the test for the presence of plasticizers has been in operation for a year, it is not yet formally validated for use in anti-doping, so an athlete could potentially argue in court that an adverse finding was not valid.

Equally, however, it could be introduced as evidence of doping by prosecutors in support of another positive test, as seems to be the situation in Contador’s case.

“Even without a validated test, it could be looked at in a case-by-case basis,” insisted Francesco Botré, chief of the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited laboratory in Rome.

“If someone has a very, very high level of plasticizers in the urine, it would be hard for that athlete to explain how that happened if not for doping. If the level is lower, it obviously would make it much harder, but it would still be possible to prove,” he added.

Jacinto Vidarte, Contador’s press agent, told The New York Times yesterday that the 27-year old “has done nothing illegal,” and that he denied involvement in blood transfusions.

He also pointed out that “There has been no official confirmation at all,” regarding last week’s reports that traces of plastcizer had been found in Contador’s urine.

Bernhard Kohl, who finished third in the 2008 Tour de France but was subsequently disqualified after failing a drugs test, told The New York Times: “It’s impossible to win the Tour de France without doping.”

The Austrian, who is speaking at the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s science conference, added that he believes most top riders undergo transfusions of their own blood as well as currently undetectable substances such as variants of EPO

“I was tested 200 times during my career, and 100 times I had drugs in my body,” Kohl pointed out. “I was caught, but 99 other times, I wasn’t. Riders think they can get away with doping because most of the time they do,” he added.

“Even if there is a new test for blood doping, I’m not even sure it will scare riders into stopping. The problem is just that bad,” Kohl concluded.
 

25 user comments

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Well done Road C.C. you're ahead of the others with this one (others being popular cycling mags).

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [985 posts]
5th October 2010 - 8:24

4 Likes

have altered Bikeradar forumites Wink they are a nice bunch.

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1287 posts]
5th October 2010 - 8:31

3 Likes

If this is true, then all those hugs and smiles from Albuterol Clentrador are now explained. Safe in the knowledge he was doped and undetectable. Until now. Oops.

The Man In Black.

posted by gandberg [215 posts]
5th October 2010 - 8:48

3 Likes

might not be so nice now you've altered them Smile

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7468 posts]
5th October 2010 - 8:49

5 Likes

Ouch ouch ouch.

Spanish cycling is in a real mess.

posted by gazzaputt [185 posts]
5th October 2010 - 9:06

3 Likes

"United States Anti-Soping Agency’s"

I support their anti soap policies!
My colleagues don't support my support for anti soap polices however Smile

Meanwhile, on topic...
Poor old Bjarne Riis, what is he to do?

posted by kitkat [220 posts]
5th October 2010 - 9:17

3 Likes

well surely this could be explained by old bertie eating a large quantity or processed cheese or anything other with a plasticky nature.

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
5th October 2010 - 9:19

3 Likes

If this does turn out to be true, he should be a man about it and fess up.
Poor old Andy Schleck having his possible glory taken away from a possible cheat(who I still believe was underhand when Schlecks chain came off).
That is of course assuming that Schleck and others in the peleton aren't doping.
Plus how can Kohl come out with a statement of "Its impossible to win the tour without doping" That has got to be a load of bull. If the doping really is that bad and that underhand then the only people to blame are the UCI and the anti-doping bodies who perhaps need to have a high profile case to fear into ALL riders!!!

Ride-on

posted by richeyre [37 posts]
5th October 2010 - 9:20

3 Likes

Well maybe Bjarne could talk to him with a knowing smile?

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
5th October 2010 - 9:21

3 Likes

and maybe not just Spanish cycling

awkward's picture

posted by awkward [62 posts]
5th October 2010 - 9:23

3 Likes

awkward wrote:
and maybe not just Spanish cycling

do tell?

you can pm me through the site.

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1287 posts]
5th October 2010 - 9:28

3 Likes

Jon Burrage wrote:
Well maybe Bjarne could talk to him with a knowing smile?

Would that be a smile with 60% curvature? Wink

posted by kitkat [220 posts]
5th October 2010 - 10:17

3 Likes

I thought the concensus within the 'cycling community' was that all TdF riders are on something. Am I being overly cycnical? Completing the Tour is quite an accomplishment - even with a little pharmaceutical enhancement.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
5th October 2010 - 10:23

4 Likes

Remember kids: Dont Do Drugs!

(that is of course unless it is completely undetectable, then you can do what the hell you want)

jobysp's picture

posted by jobysp [145 posts]
5th October 2010 - 11:14

3 Likes

Hi,

I'm sure that this has probably been said loads of time in various places but I thought I'd add my comments:

Have we reached a stage whereby the tests for doping are so 'sensitive' than any number of legitimate reasons could explain the presence of tiny ammounts of banned substances within an athlete's samples? Are these tests now becoming counter-productive in that it's a case of 'guilty until proven innoncent', and that this process all takes place in the public eye? All the time that this is taking place the image of professional cycling is being damaged.

That said (and I'm probably contradicting myself a bit here) if a rider is found to be undisputably guilty of doping - the ban needs to be for life not just 2 years, and this should extend to any involvement within professional cycling as a sport - not just as a rider. A 2 year ban does not represent a suitable deterrant in my opinion. However, the evidence needs to be solid before someone's career can be ruined.

I sincerely hope that Contador is not guilty, although I am a Schleck fan - I think that this whole episode is damaging our sport.

That's it!

-Gordon

posted by gordonmarkus [43 posts]
5th October 2010 - 11:18

2 Likes

Chapeau Simon & Road.cc: That snoring sound is from the varied velo-mags across the pond. However, I now see velonation & cycling news with the news as well.

Had David Walsh commented about this, yet? Might be time for a 1-1 with him, Pierre and/or LeMond to get their take on the latest events.
~BD

~BD

posted by bikedog [20 posts]
5th October 2010 - 12:35

3 Likes

jimmythecuckoo wrote:
have altered Bikeradar forumites

Eek! They're already strange Wink

So how does one explain excessive levels of plasticizer in the blood? It's not looking good for him. I didn't set much store by his 'tainted beef' story anyway, it smacks of all those pathetic excuses riders have used in the past.

Not sure if it has been mentioned here yet but Joe Papp's twitter is worth a look, particularly in relation to this subject.

At least the racing at the Worlds - both women's and men's - was exciting (and hopefully clean) and reminds us of what this sport should be about.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2029 posts]
5th October 2010 - 13:10

3 Likes

maybe he ate the packet it came in too Thinking

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4152 posts]
5th October 2010 - 14:28

2 Likes

yeah, or he didn't remove it from the polystyrene tray before sticking it in the microwave

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7468 posts]
5th October 2010 - 14:30

3 Likes

dave_atkinson wrote:
might not be so nice now you've altered them Smile

You can see where the typos in my blog come from can't you !!! Big Grin

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1287 posts]
5th October 2010 - 15:01

2 Likes

we're a typo haven here at road.cc, JTC, as anyone who read my recent news story on the FSA Metron 'TT shiter' will attest Smile

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7468 posts]
5th October 2010 - 15:04

2 Likes

I despair, I really do. I have two step sons that I have managed to convert from Football to Cycling with one of them moving from 4th Cat to 2nd Cat in this his first season. I am however at a loss to explain these news items that we all believed were behind us. Why does it continue to happen. Are the tests becoming so complex in depth that they are picking up something that actually exists innocently or are the alleged culprits truly cheating: Let's face it, if they are using illegal substances then are cheating. But, why do we continue to find professional cyclists apparently resorting to these tactics. Is it greed or is it the sheer pressures of modern day cycle racing?

I don't believe that it's greed. There really isn't enough of a reward to justify this. My guess is that the pressure and strains of the todays calendars are placing potentially unrealistic strains on the riders.

We spend absolute fortunes on taking the capabilities of our machines to the absolute extremes yet the human body remains what it has always been. Sure, we are far better educated in how we treat our bodies: we know what to eat and when to eat to maximise the benefits but they all have limitations. Physiologically we, mankind, have our limits: there is no SuperMan: And yet we, and the media, constantly strive to create just such a being.

I have seen suggestions that maybe the tour season is too arduous and that there should be just one 3-week tour with the others reduced to a maximum of two. Maybe, just maybe there mileage in exploring this. What I do know however, is that something has to be done to eradicate cheats. If they were isolated cases, we could deal with it the way we are today, but as we stand, we cannot just rely on Deter, Detect and Deny, we must try to analyse the Why. Why do so many people still resort to cheating, if they are of course, when the chances of being caught is almost guaranteed? Are they really that stupid?

I could go on but I'm just so pissed off with the whole affair. I love cycling: I love the fact that my two boys have taken to cycling in such a big way (even though it's cost me a small fortune). But, I hate cheats. I also hate witch-hunts. If somebody has cheated, deal with them (no cheat should be allowed back to professional cycling) but let's not turn the whole thing into a media circus, it's screwing the image of our sport.

But lets also look at the system: The testing system and the cycling system.

I apologise for any typos: They are there to test observation skills. Big Grin

Rant over Nerd

I'm off for a ride now.

podgethepuffer's picture

posted by podgethepuffer [18 posts]
5th October 2010 - 15:57

2 Likes

If this latest test result is true then it makes the UCI look particularly bad for trying to keep the whole thing under wraps. It also makes you wonder how Contador got his head out of the puerto noose.

TheHatter's picture

posted by TheHatter [811 posts]
5th October 2010 - 18:35

2 Likes

Will have to wait until UCI decide to take action regardless of media.

Disappointed now that non cyclists will look down on roadriding but Contador is innocent till proven guilty.

Angry

I like my bike but it needs a hidden 25cc motor Smile

Fish_n_Chips's picture

posted by Fish_n_Chips [325 posts]
5th October 2010 - 19:26

2 Likes

A positive testing for a banned substance IS proof that he is guilty!

The Man In Black.

posted by gandberg [215 posts]
6th October 2010 - 7:39

3 Likes