Rudi van Houts guilty of ingesting banned substance but no sanction given in echo of Contador case

Dutch mountain biker Rudi van Houts of the Multivan-Merida team has been cleared to ride again by his national federation after testing positive for clenbuterol at the end of October.

While the national association, the Koninklijke Nederlandsche Wielren Unie, held that the rider was culpable of having clenbuterol in his system, it accepted his explanation that he had ingesting it innocently after eating a steak during a trip to Mexico.

That excuse will of course sound familiar to anyone following the Alberto Contador case, and a report of the Dutch decision on the Spanish website Biciclismo was quickly retweeted by the Saxo Bank-SunGard’s manager and brother, Fran, on the social network site Twitter.

Contador himself was cleared last month by the Spanish national federation, the RFEC, following his own positive test for the substance in last year’s Tour de France, accepting his defence that he had eaten a contaminated steak brought into France from Spain.

Like Contador, the 27-year-old van Houts engaged the services of the Dutch biochemist Douwe de Boer in his defence. The cyclist’s urine contained a value of 30 picograms of clenbuterol per millilitre of urine, compared to a reading of 50 in Contador’s case.

Although those amounts are tiny, under World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) rules there is no minimum threshold required to test positive for the substance.

While Contador is riding again, returning to competition in the Volta ao Algarve last month a day after the RFEC’s verdict, his case appears to be far from over.

The UCI has until 24 March, a week from today, to lodge any appeal against the Spanish decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport, while WADA has a further month to decide whether to bring its own action.

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.