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Potential headache for ASO as Spaniard's legal team reportedly gets hearing postponed ...

Organisers of the Tour de France may be faced with a huge dilemma following reports in Spain that 2010 winner Alberto Contador’s hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), set for early June, may now be delayed until after July’s race. CAS has subsequently confirmed that the hearing has been postponed, although it has not yet given a rescheduled date.

The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) and UCI are both appealing the decision of the Spanish national federation, the RFEC, to exonerate the three-time Tour champion of doping charges brought after he tested positive for clenbuterol on his way to winning the 2010 edition. Contador, then with Astana, has since moved to Saxo Bank-SunGard.

According to the Spanish sports daily AS, the CAS hearing, fixed for 6-8 June, has now been postponed until July or even September following a request by Contador and his lawyers, citing Luis Sanz, the RFEC’s legal advisor..

That would mean that Contador, who looks set to be crowned 2011 Giro d’Italia champion in Milan on Sunday, would be free to defend his Tour de France title with the case against him still unresolved, a nightmare scenario for race organisers ASO.

AS reports that Efraim Barak, president of the three-man panel that will decide the case, will confirm the new dates for the hearing next Monday.

"In a statement published this afternoon, CAS said: "Following the agreement between the Appellants [UCI and WADA] and the Respondents [Contador], the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has accepted to postpone the hearing in this matter in order to give to all parties concerned reasonable time to prepare for such hearing and to guarantee the participation in person of witnesses and experts. Accordingly, the CAS Panel has decided to cancel the hearing initially scheduled for 6-7-8 June 2011."

The statement continued: "New hearing dates will be fixed as soon as possible."

Ever since news broke last Autumn that Contador had failed a doping control on the second rest day of last year’s Tour, which he was leading at the time, ASO has pressed for the case to be concluded ahead of this year’s race, to avoid the prospect of the defending champion taking to the start line with legal proceedings still hanging over him.

The RFEC appeared set to ban Contador for a year – a decision that the cyclist himself would presumably have appealed – before making the surprising decision to clear him of any wrongdoing following his assertion that the positive test resulted from him having eaten a contaminated steak.

There have been suspicions, however, raised among others by the UCI itself, that political influence played a part in the RFEC’s decision after public statements in support of Contador by the Spanish prime minister and leader of the opposition, among others.

The announcement by CAS earlier this month that the case was to be heard in early June would have been welcomed by ASO.

Now, however, the Tour organisers could potentially seek to exclude Contador from this year’s race, although that tactic could itself result in further legal arguments with the cyclist looking to have any such decision overturned.

This afternoon's statemen from CAS means that it is highly unlikely that the matter will have been settled in advance of the race starting on the Passage du Gois on 2 July, now less than six weeks away.
 

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.

17 comments

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GrimpeurChris [60 posts] 5 years ago
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Oh what a surprise ... NOT!
It seems to be a common tactic for doping defences to request delay after delay.
I wouldn't normally mind but it's making a mess of my Fantacy team at the Giro because I just can't put the cheat in my team! Now he's threatening to ruin my TDF!

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1961BikiE [254 posts] 5 years ago
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ASO should stick to the precedent that they themselves have set in the past (and under Prudhommes leadership) of excluding riders/teams that they have seen as having darkened the Tours reputation by their behaviour. As far as I am concerned, Contador tested positive (irrespective of how small the amount, the limit IS zero) at the Tour. So far the various governing bodies have failed to either punish or fully exonerate AC. ASO are in a no win situation in reality but they should stick to their guns. If AC really is clean (which personally I doubt, there was Operation Puerto involvement as well as the clenbuterol) I do feel sorry for him, but as a professional he should accept that he failed a mandatory drug test and that until all parties are happy that he was innocent/guilty, that the rules of his profession demand that he not compete until the definitive answer is agreed.

As said MANY times before by so many - total mess.

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gazzaputt [221 posts] 5 years ago
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His performance in the Giro must raise eyebrows.

Bertie is showing the contempt he has for the peleton and cycling as a whole.

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mancsi [97 posts] 5 years ago
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Chill out! If he is banned its generally a downturn in cycling intrest. Innocent until proven guys, and he'll lose whatever he wins if he is proven! I like the guys style!

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gareth2510 [167 posts] 5 years ago
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i agree with mancsi,
u all need to chill and sit back n enjoy the the show until the pen pushers get their arses in gear

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dullard [140 posts] 5 years ago
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mancsi and gareth

Grimpeur, BikiE and gazzaputt make valid points. Instead of being dismissive, you need to get real and stop chilling. The sport is being subverted by the likes of Contador (you believe the only contaminated steak east of Mexico story? You also have fairies at the bottom of your gardens?). He's failed a dope test, end of. And what style and what show? He climbs like Ricco in his EPO'd pomp, and I don't see any competition worth watching now. The UCI's continued indulgence of dopers and failing to grasp the nettle is causing a downturn in interest.

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Simon_MacMichael [2466 posts] 5 years ago
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dullard wrote:

The UCI's continued indulgence of dopers and failing to grasp the nettle is causing a downturn in interest.

Although it is the UCI (and WADA) who are appealing the Spanish federation's decision to clear him...?

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dullard [140 posts] 5 years ago
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Yes, Simon, it is. But when a rider tests positive for a banned substance and his home federation clears him, from its initial position of recommending a ban, after intervention from the country's Prime Minister, it would have made the UCI look even more toothless as the sport's regulators than they already did if they didn't lodge an appeal (though I suspect Wada had more to do with the appeal than Mr McQuaid). It would look as poor as, I don't know, maybe taking $100,000 from the pelton's most controversial rider. Something like that.

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fourstringsisplenty [58 posts] 5 years ago
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I don't understand what the argument's about in this case.

Contador tested positive for clenbuterol, which is a) not a naturally occurring substance in the human body and b) on the list of banned drugs. So he had a banned drug in his body.

I thought there was a strict liability rule, where athletes are, without argument, held responsible for what's in their own body. Plenty of people in other sports have been banned under this rule, which prevents dopers taking the "Someone spiked my drink/toothpaste/steak" line.

You'd almost think cycling saw itself as somehow different from other... Oh, hang on.

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AlexStriplight [75 posts] 5 years ago
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Innocent until proven guilty. Contador isn't responsible for the UCI's useless rules. It's a joke that this is taking so long, but if he's allowed to race he's going to try and win. He's probably the cleanest rider in the peloton right now...... Now flame me!

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dullard [140 posts] 5 years ago
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AlexStriplight, top joke to end the working day!

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Cooks [492 posts] 5 years ago
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I love a good drugs scandal. Does nothing to detract from the drama for me, I think it adds to the soap opera.

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AlexStriplight [75 posts] 5 years ago
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I love the Giro. Basso, Petacchi, Garzelli (positive test 2002), Rujano (positive test 2003)...You tell me who's the cleanest?

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antonio [1134 posts] 5 years ago
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unless the UCI and ASO do something pretty quick there will be a mass migration of interest in the 'Grande Tours'. Watching the present Giro, mine is already on the wain.

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mancsi [97 posts] 5 years ago
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Yawns at dullard  37

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dullard [140 posts] 5 years ago
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mancsi wrote:

Yawns at dullard  37

Well, I suppose it's better than two fingers.  4

It is a serious issue though, my friend. We need some credibility, both in the riders and the regulators.

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mancsi [97 posts] 5 years ago
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I wholeheartedly agree about the seriousness of the issue. Until its resolved though i will continue cheering Alberto on, I believe he's one of the more exciting to watch riders at the minute.