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Court of Arbitration for Sport rejects tainted meat defence, but adds no proof Spaniard doped

Alberto Contador has been given a two-year ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after it upheld the appeal by the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) into his acquittal almost 12 months ago by the Spanish national federation, the RFEC, on charges following his positive test for clenbuterol in the 2010 Tour de France. The two-year ban has been backdated to 25 January 2011, the date the RFEC had initially proposed a one year ban. After the provisional suspension he served prior to that has been discounted, he will be free to race on 5 August this year, in time for the Vuelta.

It is understood that the Spaniard, who raced the 2010 Tour de France with Astana, has been stripped of that title, which should go to Andy Schleck, now with RadioShack-Nissan, but who rode that race with Contador's current team, Saxo Bank. Contador, who always maintained his positive test was due to his having eaten a contaminated steak, should also have had the 2011 Giro d'Italia title taken away from him, which now stands to be awarded to Lampre-ISD's Michele Scarponi.

Formally anouncing the decision more than an hour after the news had broken via the Spanish media, CAS said it had "partially upheld the appeals filed by WADA and the UCI and has found Alberto Contador guilty of a doping offence. As a consequence, Alberto Contador is sanctioned with a two-year period of ineligibility starting retroactively on 25 January 2011, minus the period of the provisional suspension served in 2010-2011 (5 months and 19 days). The suspension should therefore come to an end on 5 August 2012."

Initially, the RFEC had said that it was planning to ban Contador for a year, before subsequently acquitting him in February last year. Statements of support on his behalf by the then Spanish prime minister and leader of the opposition as well as other high-profile figures led to accusations that the RFEC had been pressurised into exonerating Contador.

The irony of course is that if Contador had been banned for 12 months a year ago, he would now be returning to the sport around about now.

In a statement, the UCI said: "In rejecting the defence argument, in particular that the presence of clenbuterol in Alberto Contador's urine sample came from the consumption of contaminated meat, today's ruling confirms the UCI's position.

"However," it added, "the UCI has not derived a sense of satisfaction from the CAS ruling, but rather welcomes the news as the end of a long-running affair that has been extremely painful for cycling.

UCI President Pat McQuaid commented: "This is a sad day for our sport. Some may think of it as a victory, but that is not at all the case. There are no winners when it comes to the issue of doping: every case, irrespective of its characteristics, is always a case too many."

Reacting to the news, Bike Pure, which campaigns for a drugs-free sport, said: "This is hollow victory for anti-doping campaigners, with Contador having raced mainly unaffected since he produced the positive test in July 2010. With several months away from racing it shall merely be a short break from racing for the Spaniard."

Andy Schleck, who had lost the maillot jaune to Contador as a result of his chain slipping two days before the drugs test that returned the fateful clenbuterol, and who now stands to be promoted to overall winner of the race in which he has finished second for the last three years, said: “There is no reason to be happy now. First of all I feel sad for Alberto. I always believed in his innocence. This is just a very sad day for cycling. The only positive news is that there is a verdict after 566 days of uncertainty. We can finally move on.”

He continued: “I trust that the CAS judges took all things into consideration after reading a 4,000 page file. If now I am declared overall winner of the 2010 Tour de France it will not make me happy. I battled with Contador in that race and I lost. My goal is to win the Tour de France in a sportive way, being the best of all competitors, not in court. If I succeed this year, I will consider it as my first Tour victory.

More to follow

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.

56 comments

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andyp [1498 posts] 5 years ago
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Should have borrowed Armstrong's legal team, Bertie.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 5 years ago
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Ouch!

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andylul [410 posts] 5 years ago
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** SLAPPED **

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fxceltic [66 posts] 5 years ago
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biggest joke is that the ban is deemed to have begun from when he got caught. It should start from now as hes been stringing it out for as long as possible, so its his tough, IMO

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andyp [1498 posts] 5 years ago
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So that the results gained whilst doping still stand? Bizarre concept.

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notfastenough [3727 posts] 5 years ago
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So between this and Lance, cycling will be back in the news for the wrong reasons. A few people have said to me recently that cycling is pointless because 'they're all doping'. Must be even more frustrating for the clean pro's.

If I suddenly had more time to spare and upped my training to competition-level, and got better and better, at which point would I deemed 'to be doping'? Pisses me off.

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fxceltic [66 posts] 5 years ago
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no, he should lose those as well, obviously

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Bigfoz [134 posts] 5 years ago
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The BBC is reporting his return as 6-Aug-2012. Surely if he's raced through his "ban" while appealing, his ban should start fresh now, and he be banned until Feb 2014?

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fxceltic [66 posts] 5 years ago
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Bigfoz wrote:

The BBC is reporting his return as 6-Aug-2012. Surely if he's raced through his "ban" while appealing, his ban should start fresh now, and he be banned until Feb 2014?

plus losing his "wins" in that period, exactly what I was saying.

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Simon_MacMichael [2497 posts] 5 years ago
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There are other reports that the two-year ban starts 25 Jan 2011. We're still waiting for official confirmation from CAS.

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DanGot [27 posts] 5 years ago
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Sad day, Bertie is one of my favourite cyclist and if he was doping his way to success then there is little out there for young kids to look up too in pro cyclying  2

Never mind my friends, keep cycling... it's a wonderful way to keep fit, meet new friends and enjoy the outdoors...

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Stumps [3496 posts] 5 years ago
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I believe him when he said it wasn't deliberate. Even the great Sean Kelly said that the amount in his system would not have gained him any benefit, BUT, it is still a banned substance and he has to suffer the consequences.

Sad day for all involved and taking part in cycling  2

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La Brisa Fresca [48 posts] 5 years ago
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Its on the Cas website, he can race again from Aug 2012.
So no threshold level for Clenbuterol then !!!! AND - 'No evidence he doped'
Punished by arcaic rules that need updating...............

At least Andy Schleck has got rid of his eternal second tag !!!! Or has he ??

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andyp [1498 posts] 5 years ago
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well, it was the only way Shleck was going to win a TdF...

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Simon_MacMichael [2497 posts] 5 years ago
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We've attached the full 98-page CAS decision as a PDF to the end of the article.

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road slapper [87 posts] 5 years ago
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This decision will make some people very happy, others sad. IMO he has only now been banned so that the organisations involved can 'save face'

See you in August Bertie...

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mike4.3 [2 posts] 5 years ago
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The main question now is if William Hill owe me some money as I backed Menchov who's moved up from third to second??  3

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cat1commuter [1422 posts] 5 years ago
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So Bertie gets to ride and earn money for most of his two year ban. Nice work REFC - always looking after your star riders.

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road slapper [87 posts] 5 years ago
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cat1commuter wrote:

So Bertie gets to ride and earn money for most of his two year ban. Nice work REFC - always looking after your star riders.

The UCI are trying to slap a EUR 2’485’000 fine on him also. Probably have to wait another year for the outcome on that...

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Marauder [274 posts] 5 years ago
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Class Andy  4

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cslattery [85 posts] 5 years ago
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Can we get retrospective fantasy points for having Schleck at the time?  4

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LondonCalling [151 posts] 5 years ago
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I believed him, too. This is really sad, and to be stripped of the Tour de France title. And if the amount was not enough to gain him anything, this seems quite unfair.  2

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arrieredupeleton [581 posts] 5 years ago
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I've skim read the CAS decision and it seems that no-one proved anything at the Hearing; only that contamination of AC's blood with clenbuterol was very unlikely to be from a blood transfusion as it was from eating contaminated steak (veal). WAD/UCI's fallback argument based on other banned athletes' cases was that it came from contamination of AC's Astana-supplied legal food supplements. The panel don't explain why it was only AC who was caught by testing positive and completely ducked the issue regarding AC's blood values on 20/21st July which were anything but 'atypical'.

CAS also made it clear that they were bound to apply a two-year sanction and couldn't apply proportionality i.e. they'd have probably given him a year as RFEC original did.

So it seems the meat argument was a waste of time, CAS suspected he was transfusing but weren't brave enough or confident enough to follow it through, so they found him guilty but have given him a let off in terms of retrospective ban.

See you in August Bertie and get some better blood bags next time.

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Raleigh [1667 posts] 5 years ago
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This is ridiculous, really feel for Alberto, seeing has he's been in limbo for a year and a half.

Ridiculous bureacracy.

Wait till I'm in charge.

Wander what A levels you need?

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velotech_cycling [85 posts] 5 years ago
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I'll probably get a wall-to-wall slagging for this, from both sides of the debate, but here goes ...

Clenbuterol is such an old-school drug, no professional athlete with half a brain cell would intentionally utilise it for performance gain. It's too easy to detect on test, for one thing, and for another, there are other drugs in the group that will do the job better.

Therefore it seems likely that a cyclist like Contador probably provided a postive test for this substance as a result of an external factor - possibly dietary (most likely) ... and if one wades through the 98 pages of the CAS decision, you'll find that they (eventually) conclude that it may well, in Contador's case, have come from a dietary supplement.

BUT - the official limit for Clenbuterol, however it gets into the athlete's sytem, is zero. Contador has never sought to deny the positive test, nor to denigrate the testing procedure.

S0 - I think that this judgement is the best fudge we are going to get, and it does close the affair, which is also needed.

We have to accept that those of the "bloody cyclists, they just dope their way to victory" school will think Contador should have been hung drawn and quartered, and equally the "don't rock the boat" mob will feel that he is to some extent hard done by ... but we have to be pragmatic here & understand that we are dealing with a professional sport, not an evening "10".

All athletes and the teams that employ them will take steps to improve or maintain their performance right up to the ragged edge of the rules ... and testing regimes will have to remain at this level of sensitivity to detect the infractions at that level - so, unsatisfactory though many people will find this verdict to be, I think as a sport and as an industry, we'll not only have to live with this one, but with others like it in the years ahead, where absolute rules have to be dealt with in the context of less-than-absolute proofs and legalistic arguement.

To those who say that Contador spun this out as long as possible - well, there is an element of that, but read the full judgement, see the rate at which the process moves, take into account the complications of working across nations, a calendar, in several languages and through a legal process & take into account how *you* would feel if you *were* innocent and your whole life was about to be turned upside-down and everything you had acheived professionally was about to be reduced to zero. I think you'd fight to the last breath, too.

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SevenHills [241 posts] 5 years ago
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Raleigh wrote:

Wait till I'm in charge.

Wander what A levels you need?

If you have A levels then you're overqualified!

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midgetdutts [10 posts] 5 years ago
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My asthmatic son should be doing much better in races, he's taking a far greater dose than Contador!

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arrieredupeleton [581 posts] 5 years ago
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'Clenbuterol is such an old-school drug, no professional athlete with half a brain cell would intentionally utilise it for performance gain'

I don't know enough about it but WADA seem to be labouring under the misapprehension then that Clenbuterol is performance enhancing (250 positives between '08-'10, 18 of which in cycling) and cite inconsistencies with the frequency of its presence in meat generally. WADA/UCI claimed the Clenbuterol was in the plasma that was injected by AC on the rest day which itself was used to mask a red blood cell transfusion.

We'll never know for sure and I doubt very much we'll ever resolve doping in cycling, certainly if the bungling UCI remain the powers that be.

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bigmel [116 posts] 5 years ago
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It's not the amount of the Clenbuterol that really matters, but the fact that it shows (along with the plastic detected) that he must have had a blood transfusion on the eve of the rest day. A transfusion full of lovely additional red blood cells to pump up his oxygen carrying capability.

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alun [45 posts] 5 years ago
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The plastic was detected in a unapproved "test" on a different day from when the Clen was detected. That's probably why CAS judged it to be inadmissable.

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