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L'Equipe says blood doping allegations may underpin UCI's Alberto Contador appeal

Newspaper outlines theory surrounding self-transfusion

French sports daily L’Equipe has today reported that suggestions of blood doping, based on the detection of plasticizers in his test sample, may form a central part of the UCI’s case against Alberto Contador. Yesterday, the sport’s governing body appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the Spaniard’s acquittal last month by the Spanish federation, the RFEC, following his positive test for clenbuterol in last year’s Tour de France.

After news of Contador’s positive test broke last year, L’Equipe claimed that the laboratory in Cologne that tested his urine had also found traces in a separate sample of plasticizers that could suggest an illegal blood transfusion due to their use in blood bags.

While another World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory in Barcelona has developed a test for those plasticizers, that test has not yet been approved. Nevertheless, the findings can be used as evidence in support of separate allegations of doping, as applies here.

However, the issue was not addressed by the RFEC in its investigation into Contador’s positive test, with its decision to clear the cyclists now officially being challenged by the UCI. WADA is expected also to appeal the ruling, and has a month to do so.

According to L’Equipe, heightened levels of plasticizers were found in a sample taken from the then Astana rider the day before his positive test for clenbuterol. An illegal blood transfusion is one of the possibilities, reports the newspaper.

L’Equipe says that while Contador’s biological passport was perfectly in order during the Tour, there had been fluctuations in his haemoglobin levels in the preceding months, which could be explained by use of EPO or illegal blood transfusions.

The sequence of events that UCI and WADA experts could put forward, according to L’Equipe, is as follows: on the eve of the positive test for clenbuterol, Contador administered a blood transfusion.

Several hours later, noticing that his blood values had changed and mindful that he faced further testing, he would have transfused blood serum to bring the values into line with his biological passport. It was this serum, surmises L’Equipe, that contained the traces of clenbuterol.

Contador, currently leading the Tour of Catalonia, and his advisers are likely to argue that all of this is supposition, and that his biological passport shows that he wasn’t doping during the race, should the UCI and WADA pursue that angle.

Meanwhile, the central thread of his defence, successful before the RFEC’s disciplinary committee, will be that he ingested the clenbuterol innocently due to having eaten a contaminated steak.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Ciaran Patrick | 13 years ago

I am for 100% cleaning up a sport I love but whats going here.

Firstly he's charged with taking clenbuterol because he has been shown to have miniscule amounts in his blood stream. Now that this offense may not actual succeed, they are going for blood doping which as far as I can was never found in any of his tests at the beginning of all of this.

Lets be clear I don't like drug cheats and Contador is not my favourite rider but it seems if you are charged for something specific then bring in possibilities that you were not originally charged with. This does not do anyone any favours especially when the powers that be look so inept and incompetent, where they invent new charges just to convict someone. I thought that was the job of the judge or tribunal. This is not about conviction at all costs. It is whether the original charges were proved or not. Changing the charges for the sake of it just for a conviction seems wrong.

If he blood dopped the original charges should have reflected this misdemenor not added in just to bolster an already weak case. If the powers that be originally listed the offenses there would be no complaint now,

Its a witch hunt and nothing will come of it and plays into the hands of the drug cheats of which i am not sure now Contador is one.

Simon E | 13 years ago

the central thread of his defence, successful before the RFEC’s disciplinary committee, will be that he ingested the clenbuterol innocently due to having eaten a contaminated steak.

Unfortunately he has produced no evidence to support this claim. RFEC's statements show that didn't even want to sanction him but had to be seen to be going through the motions. This is a big part of the problem - the structures of the sport, both political and practical (ex-riders employed as DS, soigneurs, team doctors etc) are complicit yet usually only the riders are sanctioned.

@gandberg I don't think life bans are the answer, I've read a few intelligent commentators who can explain it well (sorry I can't find any links). Capital punishment does not reduce violent crime.

gandberg | 13 years ago

what is this, 1999-2005 or 2011. FFS pro cycling, sort yourself out. Life bans.

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