Alberto Contador says current drug-testing regime is "stuck in the 60s"

Spanish star adds that he plans to appeal ban and won't retire if found guilty

by Simon_MacMichael   February 5, 2011  

Alberto Contador Press Conference in Yellow © PhotoSport International.jpg

Alberto Contador, currently awaiting notification of the sanction to be imposed on him following his positive test for clenbuterol at last year’s Tour de France, which he went on to win, has said that the current drugs-testing regime is “stuck in the 60s.”

The Saxo Bank-SunGard rider made the comment on his personal website in a scathing attack on current rules regarding performance enhancing drugs which perhaps is best viewed as being a form of damage limitation should he, as was reported last month, receive a one-year ban from the Spanish national federation, the RFEC, as well as perhaps an opening salvo in a potential appeal against any punishment.

The RFEC is said to be due to announce its definitive ruling in the case towards the end of next week or at the start of the following one, and Contador has stated separately in a radio interview that he plans to appeal any ban and also distanced himself from earlier comments, made shortly after news of his failed test was made public, that he would retire from cycling if he were banned.

The 28-year-old from Pinto, near Madrid, who is the only current rider to have won all three Grand Tours, maintains that the minute quantity of clenbuterol found in his urine had made its way into his body as a result of his having eaten a contaminated steak.

In comments made on his website, Contador drew a comparison between those substances for which a certain threshold must be exceeded for a positive test to be found, and those such as clenbuterol for which there is no minimum level required and therefore, in effect, zero tolerance.

“The rules governing elite sports nowadays detail a list of substances that are taken by some athletes to improve performance, leaving the rest of the competitors at a disadvantage, and one of those substances is clenbuterol,” he said.

"So if clenbuterol were to be detected, or some other substance found in an amount sufficient to improve performance, and could only have appeared in the body if taken voluntarily, it was taken with that end in mind. Therefore, for particular substances there exists a threshold, the surpassing of which constitutes an offense and is punishable on a sporting level,” he continued.

“Today, advances in science are able to detect minute amounts of some banned substances which neither further athletic performance nor can possibly be taken voluntarily, except if they enter our bodies through ingested food; this is my case with clenbuterol.

“But whereas scientific advances have arrived in the year 2011, the rule remains stuck in the 60s, hence my “crime” and possible sanction,” Contador added.

“Only by combining scientific advances with modifications to the anti-doping rules will it be possible to talk about honest and fair sport, as I have always practiced it," he insisted.

Meanwhile, in an interview yesterday on Spanish radio station Cadena SE12’s show El Larguero, Contador gave a clear signal that he intends to appeal any ban imposed on him, saying “My problem is that when you haven’t done anything wrong, it is hard to accept a sanction.”

Last Wednesday, Giuseppe Martinelli, directeur sportif at Astana when Contador won last July’s Tour de France in the colours of the Kazakh team, urged the cyclist to accept any ban imposed on him and start planning for his return to the sport, but Contador told the host of El Larguero, “If I accept the penalty, I accept that I am guilty.”

Should Contador receive a one-year ban from the RFEC, which the Spanish federation said last month was its proposed sanction, world cycling’s governing body, the UCI, and the World-Anti-doping Agency (WADA) might appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to seek the two-year ban that the offence would appear to attract under current anti-doping rules.

Contador himself believes that he is disadvantaged in his ability to appeal a potential one-year ban, presumably because if he did so, that would impel the UCI and WADA to join the case and push for the longer ban, assuming they had not already lodged their own appeals.

The cyclist drew on a analogy to explain his predicament. “Imagine that they stop you in the street and tell you, ‘we’re going to put you in prison for five years, although okay, you haven’t done anything,’ and they tell you, ‘since you’re speaking out, we’ll give you ten years.’ That’s how you could sum it up.’

Despite those reservations, Contador, who five years ago was implicated in the Operacion Puerto investigation but subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing, insists that he is determined to fight any ban imposed on him and added that, contrary to his reaction immediately following news of his failed test last September, he does not plan to retire from the sport should he be sanctioned.

8 user comments

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'stuck in the sixties' so are some riders, they never learn.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1103 posts]
5th February 2011 - 17:07


If only the testing techniques were stuck in the '60s too, then that Clenbuterol wouldn't have shown up - or the plasticisers, for that matter...

andylul's picture

posted by andylul [418 posts]
5th February 2011 - 18:48


quite a bizarre thing to say for all sorts of reasons the two most glaring being that there probably wasn't any drug testing for a fair chunk of the Sixties - amphetamines were only banned in 1964.

The second being that Contador was born in 1982 so how would he know anyway?

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
5th February 2011 - 23:18

1 Like

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]
5th February 2011 - 23:56


tony_farrelly wrote:

The second being that Contador was born in 1982 so how would he know anyway?

Just a guess, but he can probably read and that's how he knows.

To claim he can't know because he wasn't born suggests we can't know anything about Roman history because it happened before we were born...

Often history gets more accurate the further into the past it gets because there's less reason to want to show it in a positive light. Still far too many riders alive from the 50's, 60's and beyond for the real truth about what they were taking to come out yet.


posted by Michael5 [121 posts]
6th February 2011 - 10:54


I'm sorry Michael5 reading a book about the 60s is not the same as knowing what it was like, it's knowing what the author thought it was like. To know you had to be there.

History doesn't get more accurate over time the interpretation simply changes. To actually know what a period of history was like are those that actually lived through it. You can build an idea or theory of what it was like from books, pictures, contemporary accounts or historical or archeological artefact, it can be a very sophisticated idea as our picture of the Roman world is, it may well be accurate, up to a point – it will give you a chronological list of the important events, dates, and places and the major characters that animated them but it can never be the real picture. We know so little about the lives of those that weren't major historical figures for a start but also because the mindset, values and thought processes of a typical Roman would be so alien to us that we might find them very hard to relate to – certainly in a sympathetic way – possibly a bit like old time cyclists) in that respect.

I was alive in the 60, 70s, and 80s and my memories of what those decades were actually like are far removed from what books, pictures, or films depict - it's why my kids couldn't stand watching Ashes to Ashes or Life on Mars with me because of my constant comments on the innaccuracy of the musical bits, the clothes, & the hairstyles. Yes, I'm a saddo in that respect.

Contador talking about the drug testing regime of the 60s is laughable because any information he has to base his assertions on will be partial in the extreme… his ignorance is made glaringly obvious by the simple fact that he chose the 60s as an example – organised drug testing programmes didn't exist for much of that decade.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
6th February 2011 - 14:41


tony_farrelly wrote:
I'm sorry Michael5 reading a book about the 60s is not the same as knowing what it was like, it's knowing what the author thought it was like. To know you had to be there.

What's that quote? "If you can remember the sixties, you weren't there."

Presumably on account of all the NON-perfomance enhancing drugs... Silly

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9387 posts]
6th February 2011 - 15:32


Poor old Bertie - he's not too bright - my six-year-old could drive a coach and horses through his logic.

Of course the tiny amounts found weren't going to affect your current athletic performance, but they represent the legacy from when you actually took Clenbuterol early in the season (to build muscle and reduce weight - a nice win-win situation - perhaps why it's such a popular drug in the peleton?!). You then compounded this by taking some blood for reinjection later (as evidenced by the plasiticizers found in your blood). Unfortunately, you didn't wait quite long enough for it to disappear from your system - this is the real reason why you are so cross i.e. your sordid little scheme is actually revealed for all to see.

(In fact this is right up with that of another former Astana rider's - 'I've never tested positive therefore it's categorical evidence that I've never doped' - how feeble is that?)

The more you protest, the worse you make it - listen to Martinelli - shut up and do your time or risk making it double! Tw*t!


posted by pastaman [256 posts]
6th February 2011 - 22:54