Why No Public Health Alert in Spain?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Now that Alberto Contador’s career hangs in the balance of the Spanish Federation it is time to get a move on. The UCI rules stipulate a month, although Spanish cycling boss Juan Castaño has said it could take longer.

280. The proceedings before the hearing panel of the License-Holder’s National Federation must be completed within 1 (one) month from the time limit set for the dispatch of the summons.

Once again the hapless President of the RFEC needs to read the rules and start applying them. The clock is ticking.

But for a moment, let’s put aside cycling and doping because there’s a serious public health issue here. Contador’s defence is based on the premise of contaminated meat. This has been stated in public since September and it must have been circulated privately long before this.

Are lives at risk?
Contaminated meat is very serious. If a small steak caused Clenbuterol to get into Contador’s blood, then what about a more regular customer who might have consumed bigger quantities of beef? Especially those enjoying liver where concentration levels are going to be much higher? This is about public safety and the Spanish authorities have to get a move on here.

The FDA says Clenbuterol is only mildly toxic but nevertheless it is banned and a major concern in Europe too. Spain reported two outbreaks of illness in 1990 totalling 135 persons who consumed contaminated beef liver,  people were hospitalized with increased heart rate, muscular tremors, headache, nausea, fever, and chills.What if an elderly person or a toddler had a plateful of dodgy liver? What if someone died?

The fact that nobody in Spain seems to be bothered suggests a worrying carelessness about public health …or perhaps none of the authorities believe Contador’s hypothesis?

Back to cycling
As mentioned above, the hearing has to happen within a month. I can’t see any reason for the delay, everyone gains from a prompt hearing of the case. But if this fails to happen, and the Spanish authorities are talking about a slower approach, then the RFEC can be “penalized by the disciplinary commission, incurring a fine of CHF5000 for each week’s delay without prejudice to the obligation to complete proceedings as fast as possible” as per rule 280.

Any delay beyond three months will allow the UCI to bring the case to the Court for Abitration in Sport under rule 281, in order to ensure the matter is dealt with. In addition to the humiliation involved, the Spanish RFEC would be obliged to pay for the proceedings.

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{ 7 comments }

Anonymous November 10, 2010 at 1:46 pm

I think you may be wrong in this one. I don't know the laws on detail so i'm not going to say true or false, but here En el reglamento de la UCI se fija en un mes el plazo que da a sus federaciones para que dictaminen sobre casos de dopaje, pero según la Ley Antidopaje española, que es la que se va a seguir, el período permitido es de tres meses. they are stating that the law that applies in this case is the Spanish Antidoping Law which allows up to 3 months of hearings.

About the public health alert, not long ago, just a few weeks, the Spanish police disabled a band of drug dealers trafficking with this product but I mostly believe the absence of panic is due to the second reason you've pointed, most people don't believe in the excuse.

TheInnerRing November 10, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Gracias anonymous. The law might allow for up to 3 months but the UCI stipulates one month and the RFEC is a member of the UCI. So it has to do more than follow the law.

I'd seen the Canarias story but like to know if the health or agricultural authorities have been involved here. Apparently Astana have now found the receipt but the source of the meat must have been known much earlier?

Anonymous November 10, 2010 at 2:42 pm

"" Apparently Astana have now found the receipt but the source of the meat must have been known much earlier? ""

Yep I read about that story too, the story of the receipt is farfetched, I have been to Irun and is a little town, I don't think there might be more than 10-20 butcher shops there and indeed, it shouldn't be difficult to trace the meat if necessary.

This is obviously a don't look back run by Contador and the people around him because they certainly know this can only ends up in a suspension but this guy is well connected (always have been) and is no surprise he tries to exhaust all possible solutions.

Anonymous November 10, 2010 at 2:44 pm

Here here the problem for Contador: official data shows that Clenbuterol has only shown up once in 83,203 animal samples tested by EU countries in 2008 and 2009 and never in Spain.

Oh, Contador just hired Pellizotti's lawyer…

TdF Lanterne Rouge Blog November 10, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I'm guessing the head of Spain's food safety organization doesn't reside in Pinto?

Anonymous November 10, 2010 at 5:15 pm

I think that you may be wrong about Clenbuterol being forbidden in EU, as you can read here: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2000:276:0005:0008:EN:PDF and here: http://webarkiv.ft.dk/?/Samling/19991/udvbilag/EUU/Almdel_bilag1418.htm
About the health risk, then as far as I know it takes much higher concentration in the meat to get ill from eating a steak, than what is allowed to be in the meat according to the two links above.
We really don't know how many people / cyclist have clenbuterol in their bodies as normal people don't get tested for that, and only very few cyclist get tested with the new method that can detect the very small concentration, remember only 10 samples from TdF got tested on the lab in Cologne, and we don't know if all 10 samples were from Contador or if other riders samples were tested there too.
About the 83.000, do you know how many cows there are in EU?

TheInnerRing November 10, 2010 at 8:19 pm

Anonymous, yes, it can be allowed to allow a cow to give birth but neither the mother nor the calf would be near the food chain.

The European food agencies adopt the "precautionary principle", and perhaps the contamination here would cause investigations and alerts. Certainly if I was running a food safety agency I'd be getting busy. After all, the allegations made by Contador are serious, to allege a butcher and a farmer are using this.

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