Updated: Alberto Contador one year doping ban confirmed

Spanish rider has been told of ban and has 10 days to appeal

by Tony Farrelly   January 26, 2011  

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador has received a one year ban for failing a blood test for the banned substance Clenbuterol. The news of the ban was broken by the Spanish newspaper El Pais and confirmed tonight by a statement on his Saxo Bank Sungard team's website announcing a press conference on Friday at which Contador and his team manager will discuss the matter.

Contador has been given 10 days to appeal the decision handed down by the Spanish federation's Competitions Committee. The ban means that the Spaniard who failed the test for Clenbuterol taken at last year's Tour de France while he was riding for Astana, will be stripped of his 2010 Tour title which will now go to Andy Schleck, and that he will miss this year's race. The Saxo Bank statement also confirms that the reason for the one year ban is that the Competition Committee accepted, or indeed swallowed, Contador's explanation of "unintentional ingestion" of clenbuterol via a dodgy steak.

According to the statement by Riis Cycling on the Saxo Bank-Sungard website, Contador and his team manager, Bjarne Riis will face the press to discuss the matter on Friday afternoon. Contador had threatened to quit the sport had he been found guilty, a threat he has been notably quiet about in recent weeks. It will be interesting to see what he has to say about that. Riis for his part would appear to be ready to stand by his man. His reasoning may well be that Contador is still his best bet in a team shorn of star talent with the defection of all the major players and most of the supporting cast from last year's Saxo Bank team to this year's Leopard Trek. The Spaniard is on a multi-year deal and while he will forever be tainted goods for many from now on, he is also a proven winner and probably the only man capable of stopping Andy Schleck for the foreseeable future. Contador remains a highly bankable asset for 2012 while his current difficulties suggest he will not put too much of a strain on the team bank account in 2011. All supposition of course, things will be made clearer on Friday no doubt.

The inner turmoil at Saxo Bank Sungard though is merely one small corner of a much bigger mess created by the Spanish federation's one year ban and the suggested reasoning behind it. As we reported yesterday a one year ban is likely to cause questions to be asked of the Spanish regarding their investigation. UCI rules state that the minimum ban for a contravention of their rules on doping is 2 years. Crucially though it is left to the national governing body of the individual concerned to carry out disciplinary proceedings and to impose a sentence.

There has as yet been no comment from the UCI or WADA the World Anti-Doping Authority on this matter. The reaction of both those bodies will decide whether a one year ban is the end of the of the disciplinary process or merely the start of a longer and potentially messy legal challenge by one for both bodies of the Spanish federation's sentence. For a start while the Spanish accepted Contador's contaminated steak defence WADA has already said that neither strand of his argument, the steak nor the very small amount of clenbuterol found has any scientific validity.

To make matters yet more complicated for the UCI and WADA confirmation of Contador's one year ban will in all probability lead to the re-opening of the disciplinary case against  Li Fuyu, the Radioshack rider who was banned for two years in March 2009 after also failing a test for clenbuterol which he too claimed was caused by unintentionally eating tainted meat. Although the Chinese cycling federation imposed a two year ban they did not send the papers for the case to the UCI for formal ratification, which one of their officials has confirmed could mean that they may revisit their original decision and adjust the sanction imposed in the light of a lesser punishment for the same offence being handed out in Spain. Like Contador, Fuyu Li continues to maintain his innocence

And he's not the only one. Bjarne Riis won't be the only Dane taking a keen interest in all this, the Danish rider Philip Nielsen also failed a test for Clenbuterol last year at the Tour of Mexico. His case is currently making its way through the disciplinary procedure, but it is hard to see how he too won't also be demanding parity with Contador when it comes to punishment.

If the UCI and WADA fail to act they will effectively be acquiescing to the establishment of a lesser form of doping in cycling and a new defence of "unintentional ingestion" for anyone caught using clenbuterol where similar values of the substance are picked up. In terms of its attempts to clean up cycling's image that would be a disaster for the UCI which also has the culmination of the Novitzky investigation into doping in US cycling in general, and the US Postal Team in particular, looming large on the horizon. 

It would also seem unthinkable that WADA would let this one lie for fear that such a defence for failed Clenbuterol tests was picked up on by athletes in other sports.

18 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

What a mess.

posted by lokikontroll [51 posts]
26th January 2011 - 23:27


They've definitely gone about this in a ham-fisted way and no mis-steak..

posted by don_don [149 posts]
26th January 2011 - 23:35

1 Like

Its the least the spanish could get away with really - look like they are punishing him but in reality a one year ban wont affect his career too much.

However, he did say he would quit if he got banned, so go on Bertie...

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
27th January 2011 - 0:17


One thing is for sure - Contadors name, like his dinner, is tainted. This tedious story will rumble on for months yet. A farce. Shouldve been cleared up months ago. What bout the reports of plastic being foud in his urine, from blod transfusions? Do him or let him off. The clenbuterol found was so miniscule as to be utterly usless to him as a doping aid(0.000 000 000 05 grams per ml) but like I said, evidence of carrying out transfusions? BAN THE CONT. He's been implicated before in Spanish drugs busts, so I think hes guilty. Like the rest of them.

The Man In Black.

posted by gandberg [215 posts]
27th January 2011 - 1:07



big star name = 1 year
lesser mortal = 2 year

Where's the equality in that .......

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [922 posts]
27th January 2011 - 9:27


The procedure of a country dealing with a rider from said country was always a silly idea. If the UCI were handling it directly he would have got 2 years, no questions asked.

But to the Spanish federation Bertie is THE star name. They can't let him off because UCI/WADA would have been on them, along with the media for favouritism. If they gave him the 2 years, then Contador buggers off and they have lost a bankable asset. So they sat on the fence and did neither, hence the obviously bodged 1 year.

Reminds me of the FA and Alan Shearer many years ago before the World Cup. He kicks the Leicester player in the head, and the FA say they will charge him. He says if they do he won't go to the World Cup. You fill in the rest...

othello's picture

posted by othello [341 posts]
27th January 2011 - 9:58


I'm looking forward to seeing him grilled on Friday Smile

posted by piedwagtail [11 posts]
27th January 2011 - 10:27

1 Like

surely he will announce his retirement as well ?
good riddance

posted by andyfla [26 posts]
27th January 2011 - 11:45

1 Like

> One thing is for sure - Contadors name, like his dinner, is tainted.

The whole sport is tainted (past and present) Sad

posted by zoxed [63 posts]
27th January 2011 - 13:11

1 Like

So do last year's Fantasy TdF results become null and void? Wink

I _knew_ I was right to go with Schleck for GC …

posted by ped [197 posts]
27th January 2011 - 13:39

1 Like


posted by Dog72 [108 posts]
27th January 2011 - 13:45


ped wrote:
So do last year's Fantasy TdF results become null and void? Wink

i'm *not* going there...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7855 posts]
27th January 2011 - 13:47

1 Like

Fair enough, Dave, but do remember that your victory in the 'Webbies' league has become somewhat tainted. Just sayin'


posted by ped [197 posts]
27th January 2011 - 14:09


i had schleck all the way through, those extra white jersey points cementing my emphatic win*

*in that league

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7855 posts]
27th January 2011 - 14:14

1 Like

Gah! (goes off looking for other straws to clutch at to explain being well and truly beaten)

posted by ped [197 posts]
27th January 2011 - 14:39


If Alberto Contador were a close personal friend, my friendly advice to him would be to retire from the professional cycling arena, permanently. The industry has let him down; and the federations in judgment have shown themselves to be immature lug-heads. This is not a group I'd encourage "my friend Alberto" to continue in relationship with.
That said; It occurs to me that the last many months have probably been for Contador severely emotionally draining - they certainly would have been for myself - and brimful of uncertainties; that I don't know that Alberto would be able to be in top-form, even if he'd qualified for this year's Tour.
Were I Contador, I'd welcome the respite: AND I WOULD NOT RETURN.

posted by Elfstone [9 posts]
27th January 2011 - 16:30


Those cut and paste keys working overtime over in Marin County, eh Elfstone?

purplecup's picture

posted by purplecup [233 posts]
27th January 2011 - 16:33


Wow!!! What dies that do to last years fantasy tour resaults!!!!!

monkeys_paw's picture

posted by monkeys_paw [27 posts]
27th January 2011 - 18:32