There are reports now that the UCI is set to open a disciplinary procedure against Alberto Contador for a doping offence. This is not to say he is guilty yet, rather than the facts are now going to be reviewed in the context of a potential sanction.
Nevertheless it is almost inconceivable that the UCI would request the start of such a hearing if it did not believe there were grounds to prosecute. I can’t think of case when the UCI has referred a case to a national federation only for the rider to escape a ban. So here are some potential outcomes:
Bueno: A straight two year ban
Normally this procedure ends with a two year ban. The positive A and B samples means an athlete has to be banned under the strict WADA code, which the UCI upholds to the letter in its own rules. This has to be the most likely outcome.
Reduced by the facts
The only escape route is for the athlete to present evidence that they were knowingly tricked, that they were not at fault. We’ve seen this claim made with the “rogue beef” hypothesis put forward by Contador’s entourage but as yet there’s been no follow-up, certainly there’s been no public health alert in Spain for contaminated meat, nor arrests of suspect farmers.
Another potential exit route would be some managed settlement. I am speculating but it is possible that an agreement is reached where Contador agrees to shortened ban on condition of no appeal. I’ve already raised the prospect of a costly legal battle and this is one way to prevent this. But this would leave a lot of question marks. It’s unlikely.
Another possible but unlikely outcome is Spanish intransigence. We saw glacial progress and at times, straight refusal, to act over Alejandro Valverde’s involvement with Operation Puerto. It could be that the Spanish authorities clear Contador or refuse to prosecute. But this would result in a prompt action from WADA and could end in a political spat where Spain would risk potential suspension from all cycling events, indeed from other sporting events if WADA could get the IOC on board.
Another likely outcome is that Contador walks away from the sport after a two year ban. His “son of Pinto” image will take a big knock, he is now likely to join the ranks of “swarthy cheats” who cut corners on their way to victory.
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