CAS unlikely to hear case until November, Wiggins says Contador's guilt or innocence "almost irrelevant now" and urges for decision...

Cadel Evans may have sealed his victory in the 2011 Tour de France in Paris on Sunday, but it could be Christmas before we find out who will officially be recognised as winner of last year’s race following the news that the appeal hearing relating to the Alberto Contador doping case, scheduled for next week, has once again been postponed, this time until November. Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins has said that Contador's innocence or guilt is "almost irrelevant now" and that the case needs to be resolved one way or the other.

Contador was cleared earlier this year by the Spanish national cycling federation, the RFEC, after testing positive for clenbuterol at last year’s Tour de France, which he won while riding for Astana. Andy Schleck, then with Saxo Bank, Contador’s current team, finished second, as he has now done for each of the past three years.

Initially, the RFEC had said that it proposed banning him for one year, and its decision to clear him altogether came as a surprise, although it followed high-profile statements of support made on Contador’s behalf by the Spanish prime minister and leader of the opposition.

With no minimum threshold required to test positive for clenbuterol and thereby receive a mandatory two-year ban, and Contador not disputing its presence in his system, but rather how it got there – he maintains it was from innocently eating a contaminated steak – the RFEC’s decision was appealed by world cycling’s governing body, the UCI, and the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Originally, the appeal hearing had been set for early June, meaning that the issue should have been resolved, one way or another, before the start of this year’s Tour de France.

It was then rescheduled for the beginning of August – the hearing was due to run from next Monday to Wednedsay – but has now been put back to an as yet unspecified date, “probably in November.”

In a statement, CAS said it had “allowed a request for a second exchange of written submissions between the parties as well as for a new procedural calendar.”

It added: “Such request was formulated by WADA with the unanimous agreement of the three other parties.”

The statement from CAS explained that “The second round of written submissions will allow the parties to complete their evidence and arguments relating to some specific scientific issues.”

Tour de France organisers ASO had wanted the situation regarding the 2010 race to have been cleared up before the start of this year’s 98th edition of the race, which Contador began as favourite having dominated the Giro d’Italia in May.

As it turned out, the Saxo Bank-SunGard rider ended up fifth overall, the first time in the last seven Grand Tours he has ridden that he has failed to win.

A difficult first week of the Tour saw the Spaniard lost time to most of his rivals when he was held up behind a crash. A subsequent knee injury after he himself came off meant that Contador’s defence of his title was in trouble even before he was dropped on the approach to the summit finish on the Galibier last Thursday.

Somehow, Contador recovered to engineer an attack on the Col du Telegraphe the following day that left all his rivals bar Schleck struggling, and when he attacked again on the Alpe d’Huez, the defending champion appeared to be on his way to an unlikely stage win before Europcar’s Pierre Rolland passed him a couple of kilometres out.

The Spaniard’s attack that day immediately put Rolland’s colleague Thomas Voeckler, who was spending his tenth day in the race leader’s maillot jaune, into trouble and even before the halfway point in the stage the Frenchman knew the game was up, giving his blessing to his younger team mate to himself go on the attack.

Team Sky’s Wiggins, who had crashed out of the race with a broken collarbone during the first week, was highly critical of this latest delay to a case that dates back to a doping control failed more than a year ago now.

"Whether he's innocent or guilty or whatever, it's almost irrelevant now," said the British champion, quoted on Sportinglife.com.

"A decision needs to be made either way. It's not fair on the events he's competing in.

"He had an outcome on the Tour de France last week, one way or another. He wasn't the best Contador we've seen, but him attacking on the Telegraphe changed the whole race.

"Voeckler went after him, Voeckler cracked and Voeckler probably lost the opportunity to be on the podium because Contador was in that race,” Wiggins pointed out.

"Is that fair? Should he be in the race?

"If he's innocent, fair enough, he should be allowed to race.

"But if he's not and this decision hasn't been made, then essentially he's been affecting the outcome of every race he's ridden for the last six months - and that isn't fair.

"That changes peoples lives, changes people's careers, changes people's salaries and Voeckler's missed the podium of the Tour de France.

"This sport needs people like Voeckler and that's disappointing,’ Wiggins insisted.

"That's now going to go on until November. It is disappointing, but it's going to continue.

"Why November? It's going to be well over a year since the thing happened.

"It's similar to [Alejandro] Valverde,” continued Wiggins, referring to the former Caisse d’Epargne rider eventually banned in May 2010 for his links to Operacion Puerto.

“Before you know it two years have passed and it's so long ago.”

Valverde, who apparently continues to train with the team, now sponsored by Movistar, was never sanctioned by the RFEC and was only banned when the UCI and WADA appealed to CAS to have a ban on his competing in Italy extended worldwide.

The Italian ban stemmed from the fact that a blood sample taken from Valverde during the 2008 Tour de France when it made a brief detour into Italy was found to be a DNA match for blood found in a bag seized as part of the Operacion Puerto investigation.

Wiggins concluded: "It's such a shame that. You expect nothing else at this stage. Nothing surprises me."

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.


antonio [1167 posts] 6 years ago

My vote for Wiggo to be elected to UCI executive status has just been cast.

londonplayer [621 posts] 6 years ago

And the moral of this story is........

If there's steak on the menu, always choose the fish. It will save everyone a heck of a lot trouble in the long term.

stuartpeck1 [98 posts] 6 years ago

Cycling needs an all encompassing governing body that controls every aspect of the sport, regardless of what country you represent.

Is Bertie innocent, who knows? But frankly that doesn't matter as Wiggo pointed out, it was in his bloodstream and it was on the banned list. It needs to be proven it was a contamination or he's banned.

He's ridden the Giro and now the Tour with questions hanging over his head.

It's hard when you hear non cycling fans talk about the sport being hand in hand with doping, and it's the governing bodies that control the sport that should be fighting to stop this slur on the sport. By ignoring it only puts more doubt in more peoples heads, adding more power to the doping accusations. Oddly we've not heard anymore from the storm in the tea cup that was Floyd Landis exposing Armstrong.

It's disgusting that the CAS hearing wasn't pre-giro, it was postponed in June to allow him to race the tour, it's just a farse.

Surely WADA and the UCI should have been on Bertie's and the RFEC's back straight after his positive test!? This just adds weight to reports of corruption between the cycling bodies.

Simon_MacMichael [2502 posts] 6 years ago

Worth pointing out that according to the CAS statement, it appears to be WADA that moved for the postponement. I guess they haven't quite nailed the plastcizers test yet  39

Stuart - we haven't heard the last of the Lance Armstrong investigation and it's anything but a "storm in a teacup."

Agree that the Contador case has dragged on for far too long, not sure we'll ever find out the full reasons for that. I imagine there was a big sigh of relief at ASO when it became clear he wouldn't win this year's race, but as Wiggins points out, his very presence did have an effect on the eventual outcome.

bikeandy61 [538 posts] 6 years ago

This could have been sorted if the RFEC had stated categorically why they failed to sanction him, along with the evidence to support their decision. As Wiggo said and we all know, Contador IS "guilty" of having a banned substance in his blood stream above that products accpeted limit.

I think one (of the many) problems with cycling and governing bodies is that they are terrified of being sued for depriving suspected/accused riders of being able to earn a crust until a definitive result is acheived. Maybe a way to resolve this is for every rider who finishes/has finished behind Contador to sue for the effect that allowing him to race has had on their careers/results?

bikeandy61 [538 posts] 6 years ago

Though I don't intend to condone rampant litigation, which in my opinion is one of the great blights of 21st century western culture.

handlebarcam [1044 posts] 6 years ago

I'm not sure why you are choosing to report this story in the context of what Wiggo says about it. Could it be your CMS prevents two stories with the same headline, and you've already used "Contador appeal hearing postponed" and "Contador appeal hearing postponed again" and ""Contador appeal hearing postponed yet again"?

Doctor Fegg [147 posts] 6 years ago

"Somehow, Contador recovered"

I did actually laugh out loud at that little innocent "somehow". Thanks for that.  3

Paul J [942 posts] 6 years ago

Cycling has a seemingly ridiculous attitude to doping. To actually be sanctioned, the rider's have to be caught absolutely red-handed. Many riders have big stinks around them, e.g. because of proven & admitted payments made to doping doctors (Frank Schleck and a few others) yet still get away with it for lack of a smoking-gun blood sample. When a rider actually *does* get caught, the consequences are relatively minor in terms of their career. They get a ban of 1 or 2 years at most, after which time they're accepted happily back into cycling - sometimes by the *same* team! (speaking of teams, they're often run by former pros who've been done for doping themselves)!

Bradley Wiggins has written of there being a culture of acceptance of doping in the peloton at major events, particularly among an older set of riders and the people around them.

When is cycling going to adopt a 0-tolerance attitude? I.e. life bans for proven dopers?

Matt_S [297 posts] 6 years ago

As it turned out, the Saxo Bank-SunGard rider ended up fifth overall, the first time in seven Grand Tours he has ridden that he has failed to win.

Bertie has finished 8 GTs. He was 31st in the 2005 Tour.

jazzdude [77 posts] 6 years ago

We can only have zero tolerance once all those who have doped, taken back-handers to keep quiet or turned a blind eye for far too long have left the sport or retired. That means probably most of them, I should imagine!

Simon_MacMichael [2502 posts] 6 years ago

Matt S: "Bertie has finished 8 GTs. He was 31st in the 2005 Tour."

Sorry if that was ambiguous. I've added "... the last..." to make it crystal clear.

skippy [416 posts] 6 years ago

Having started a new thread on CNF/clinic(see my blogs ) i have learned that some Mexicans have been found in the same situation as AC so perhaps WADA is looking at changing the rules ?

Does not change AC's situation BUT could be that he will be found "wanting " but there will be no suspension !

Justice delayed is USUALLY justice denied !

This story looks like it has grown "wings" and will fly off to hibernate in the next century !