Australian cyclist Stephen Hines has today been banned for two years for attempted use of the drug clenbuterol – the very same substance that Tour de France winner Alberto Contador tested positive for during July’s Tour de France.
According to a statement from the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA) acknowledging Sport Australia’s decision to ban the rider, the substance was discovered in an airmail package addressed to Hines that was intercepted by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service on 10th November last year.
ASADA subsequently confirmed that the substance in the package, whose origin has not been disclosed, was indeed clenbuterol, and that Hines was the intended recipient.
The statement added that Hines “will be ineligible to participate as an athlete or support person in sport until 20 September 2012.”
The cyclist’s club affiliation and level of competition was not revealed in the communication from ASADA, and we’ve so far been unable to identify who the cyclist is.
There is a cyclist of that name who appears to compete at local level in New South Wales, but it’s far from certain it’s the same rider, so if anyone has further information, please let us know in the comments below.
Meanwhile, the UCI is expected to confirm in the coming days what action it intends to take with regard to Contador.
While the Spaniard maintains that he ingested the clenbuterol due to contaminated meat, as a substance that does not occur naturally in the body, there is no minimum threshold required to test positive for it – either it is present, or it is not.
With the presentation of the route of the 2011 Tour de France just one week away, and the defending champion customarily sitting front and centre in the auditorium to watch proceedings unfold, cycling’s image risks further damage should there be no news come next Tuesday.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.