Everything points to Contador being cleared

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Will Contador take aim at the WADA code?

Cui bono? That’s Latin for “who benefits”. The phrase has lasted for over 2,000 years because when people do things you need to understand the incentives behind their actions.

In this case, let’s ask ourselves who benefits from seeing Contador banned? Arguably WADA and fans who want a cleaner sport. But why the argument? Well because banning a big name athlete for eating a contaminated steak could undermine the anti-doping fight, the absolutist nature of the WADA rules could be attacked in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Also, if the steak excuse is true then it ridicules the anti-doping efforts: we can catch beef-eaters whilst blood dopers remain untouchable. It’s not a very satisfactory result.

In the opposing camp, there are plenty who would lose out. Obviously Contador but there’s also his old and his future teams, the Tour de France, Specialized, the broadcasters who have rights to the big bike races next year and many others too.

Above all, there’s the UCI. It’s charged with the sometimes opposing tasks of promoting the sport whilst also catching dopers. If the steak hypothesis is accepted then, bingo, there’s no doping and the sport’s biggest name is cleared. Everyone’s a winner.

The key thing to note here is that the UCI is already adopting this stance ahead of the evidence and in conflict with the anti-doping rules. It kept news of Contador’s double positive test quiet, even telling the Spaniard not to tell anyone. The UCI appears to be taking sides, spreading the bad steak hypothesis.


Hey, what about the rules?
Only the UCI shouldn’t be taking sides. Positive A and B samples mean a doping offence and a two year ban. The rules say Contador can provide evidence to prove he was not at fault. But he can only shorten the ban. Yet these rules could be sidelined as behind the scenes it seems things are in motion to ensure Contador will be cleared.


Guilty or not guilty?
Finally, it’s worth stating that I’d love to see Contador cleared. But if he claims contaminated meat is the cause then he must prove this as the rules stipulate. Thanks to the European bovine passport system it should be easy to find samples of the contaminated meat.

Yet if the UCI is quietly getting ready to Contador just because it suits them then this is fundamentally wrong. It makes us ask whether the sport takes anti-doping rules seriously or if they can be waived when an embarrassing situation appears.

  • Apologies for yet another UCI and Contador story, but it’s been a busy week with a lot of news for obvious reasons. Hopefully the content on The Inner Ring can span more aspects of pro cycling in the following days, including more cheerful matters. But the way the sport is managed matters a lot.
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{ 10 comments }

Anonymous October 3, 2010 at 11:45 am

I think there's more at stake here, though; it's not just about the Clenbuterol, but also the (yet to be verified) claims that chemical traces of plasticizers were present at very high quantities. If this is indeed the case, it could be indicative of a blood transfusion; that would present an altogether different possibility for the presence of Clenbuterol, and would make things a whole lot more serious.

While all who want to believe AC is racing clean (and I do hope he is proven beyond doubt to have been riding without doping), it's too soon to know if this is the case. Let's hope that this will all be sorted out transparently and credibly, but it is worth keeping in mind that there is also a chance the charges could be more serious.

I just hope the other contenders had the same plasticizer test done.

TheInnerRing October 3, 2010 at 11:47 am

If he can trace the meat then this can be tested independently. If it's tainted, he's cleared.

If he can't prove it's the meat that's the cause, he's done for.

TdF Lanterne Rouge Blog October 3, 2010 at 12:44 pm

No apologies, another insightful piece! Not seeing a lot of analysis elsewhere, since conveniently people have their attention on the world championships right now.

I'd love to see a "compare and contrast" between UCI actions on the Fuyu Li positive (at similar levels of the same drug) and Contador's. I think the contrast is fairly egregious.

Siocan October 3, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I'm scared. When the UCI really tried to hide the results, how many other cases exists? I read on another german page (radsport news) that they consider a 3 month ban. starting 24 august and ending on the 24th november. that would be ridiculous!

TdF Lanterne Rouge Blog October 3, 2010 at 6:29 pm

Apparently a 6 month ban or more (for any reason) makes Contador ineligible for the next Olympics. Oh no, can't have that.

TheInnerRing October 3, 2010 at 6:34 pm

According to the rules the ban can only shortened if he proves he's innocent. So he has to track down the meat and get it tested. If this works, then great, we'll have a definitive answer.

If he can't track down the supply of contaminated meat then he has to serve a lengthy ban. As others have suggested, the concentration in the sample is actually quite significant.

The UCI should not be taking a part in this, they need to be independently monitoring things, awaiting Contador's defence and ready to provide a fair hearing.

TdF Lanterne Rouge Blog October 3, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Spanish meat producers are rightfully pissed off:
http://tinyurl.com/26cv9lx

david lewis October 4, 2010 at 12:22 am

Hmmm. Small or not, the substance is banned. Is the proof not with Contador to prove things? If UCI lets him off after being silent for month, that's just bull#$@%. Two sets of rules only applies to parents and their kids. ;) I'd be damned pissed if I was another rider who had news leaked days later vs. months, and got two years vs. a slap on the ass. Man up UCI.

TdF Lanterne Rouge Blog October 4, 2010 at 12:29 am

Honestly, if UCI really gives Contador a 3-month wristslap (in the absence of any objective evidence in the form of tainted meat samples, for example), they will have severely hurt the sport of cycling and generated an extremely good reason for the WADA to throw out the UCI for noncompliance with their code. And therefore out of the Olympics. It truly would be an outrage.

Alex Murray October 4, 2010 at 9:29 am

The ridiculous thing is that Spanish beef producers have every right to be pissed off given how strict EU regulations are and that Clenbuterol use is banned.

Fuyu Li has even more right to be angry give he got rinsed by the UCI when Clenbuterol contamination is far more likely to be prevalent in Chinese beef where its use isn't banned.

He'd seemingly accepted his middling domestique status in Europe despite being a star in China, I see even less reason for him to be at the Clenbuterol than Contador. Guilty of prejudice against both the smaller riders and China, a nation perceived to be backward on doping.

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