I’d been led to believe that the UCI was working behind the scenes to clear Alberto Contador and wrote about in the piece below. The idea was simple, that the damage of seeing the reigning Tour de France champion being banned would be huge and therefore heaven and earth plus the WADA code was being moved aside in order to favour the Spaniard.
Now the Spanish media is running with a similar story. Daily El Pais wrote that the UCI was only days away from “shelving” the matter but the leak by the German media has suddenly shone a spotlight onto the UCI. The governing body finds itself caught between a desire to protect its favoured rider and the media glare which is beginning to understand the anti-doping rules and way that the onus is on Contador to prove his innocence after a both A and B samples show a positive.
Some thoughts on this
First the UCI is taking sides. Once again the relevant rules insist the UCI has to provide a fair hearing and this doesn’t look like the case. If they can take one side, maybe they can also bury a rider they don’t like. This sits very badly, especially because of the allegations regarding Armstrong, donations and more are fresh in the mind. You’d think that with these stories around the UCI would be scrupulously transparent but instead it appears big names are getting preferential treatment. If Thomas Voeckler eat a bad steak, would the UCI suspend the rules to suit him?
Next, the rules do allow for a ban to be shortened, although only after a rider had supplied evidence to the hearing to prove mitigating circumstances. But the rules insist that no matter what the circumstances a ban has to imposed. Above all, the rules state that a violation of the anti-doping rules from an in-competition test automatically leads to disqualification of the individual result. Put another way, Contador will be stripped of his Tour de France win and Andy Schleck will be awarded the win.
Finally there’s an irony in that if the UCI are trying to ignore their own rules, the unruly forces of public opinion could impose clarity. A three month ban is easy but Contador’s problem isn’t the ban, it’s the suspicion that will haunt him for a long time to come. He might not be able to escape the rumours and slurs, he’ll need to continue to hunt for the bad beef to clear his name. Especially since sections of Spanish agriculture are furious that he’s accused them of doping, lacing their beef with illegal hormones, an allegation that may well need to be backed up.