Contador Verdict: Two Year Ban

Monday, 6 February 2012

Contador-

The Court of Arbitration in Sport has delivered its verdict on Alberto Contador. He is suspended for two years with the ban starting on 25 January 2011.

His results in the 2010 Tour de France win are erased and all results obtained since 25 January 2011, including the Giro d’Italia are removed too. Comment and analysis below.

Background
Alberto Contador won the Tour de France with the Astana team that year but later it was revealed he had tested positive for a banned substance on a rest day when the race was staying in Pau, the large town by the Pyrenees. The sample contained a very small amount of clenbuterol, a banned substance.

To summarise, the news of this positive test was not released until much later and in time he was cleared in full by the Spanish cycling federation, the RFEC. But the UCI, cycling’s governing body, and the World Anti-Doping Agency were unsatisfied with this and appealed the verdict to the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS). 566 days later we get the verdict.

The Verdict

The Panel found that there were no established facts that would elevate the possibility of meat contamination to an event that could have occurred on a balance of probabilities.

The Panel concluded that both the meat contamination scenario and the blood transfusion scenario were, in theory, possible explanations for the adverse analytical findings, but were however equally unlikely. In the Panel’s opinion on the basis of the evidence adduced, the presence of clenbuterol was more likely caused by the ingestion of a contaminated food supplement.

…none of the considerations for eliminating or reducing the period of ineligibility were me, on the basis the basis of the UCI Anti-Doping Regulations, the Panel decided to sanction Alberto Contador with a two year period of ineligibility.

…The Panel decided to fix the starting date of the suspension on 25 January 2011, which is the date on which the RFEC [Spanish Cycling Federation] proposed to suspend Alberto Contador for one year. Furthermore in accordance with the applicable regulations the 2010 Tour de France results achieved by Alberto Contador are disqualified as well as the results obtained in all competitions in which he participated after 25 January 2011.

That’s a statement from the CAS. They read a 4,000 page file and deliberated but at no point was the positive test disputed nor the principle that in order to avoid a sanction Contador had to establish where the source of contamination came from and that he’d committed no fault or negligence.

Comment and analysis
The ban is for two years starting in January 2011 but he was provisionally suspended following the positive test for five months and 19 days and this is subtracted from the total meaning his suspension ends on 5 August 2012.

An appeal is possible. CAS verdicts are binding. Contador is suspended and whilst he might consider further appeals, he cannot race for now. There are two appeal routes. First, to the Swiss courts over procedural matters, for example if the CAS did not follow its own rules but this route has rarely proved successful in the past. The second route would be an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights but this a procedure that can take years. My impression is that he’s spent enough on lawyers already.

A two year ban is surprising. I had been expecting a ban of six months to one year, a sanction to reflect the positive test and the strict liability principle of the WADA Code and Contador’s inability to prove the source contamination. But also 10.5 of the Code which deals with proportionality, in this case to reflect the minuscule quantity of clenbuterol discovered. Nevertheless it seems he was unable to mitigate this at all with any evidence of contaminated beef. So he gets the WADA code and its strict liability principle in full.

Where’s the beef: WADA and the Basque health authorities traced the supply chain behind the “rogue steak” and no clenbuterol contamination was detected. Contador’s defence team suggested that it was possible for contaminated meat to enter the food chain but CAS ruled the possible was very low.

Blood doping and plasticisers: the UCI and WADA sought to establish the possibility that Contador tested positive after infusing blood (blood doping) and that it was likely this infusion contained blood stored during a past period when he also consumed clenbuterol. But many of Contador’s blood values were normal and whilst the UCI’s Michael Ashenden tried to continue with this path, the CAS ruled this out stating the probability of blood doping was equally unlikely as meat contamination.

So what happened? Nobody can say for sure. CAS has merely ruled that the probability of contaminated meat is very low. With the lack of evidence to excuse Contador, the presence of clenbuterol is the key fact and this brings with it a ban.

Why the ban from 25 January 2011? Simple, this was when Alberto Contador’s case finally got a hearing with the RFEC. It took five months and 19 days for this to happen. For the previous five months prior to this he had been provisionally suspended. The suspension is two years from January 2011 with the five months subtracted.

He didn’t fail a test during the 2011 Giro but Contador is stripped of the result. This is because the result was obtained during his “period of ineligibility”, in other words the CAS has concluded he should be banned from the date of his hearing and the Giro d’Italia, amongst other races, is included during this period.

Contador himself takes a big hit, both personally – he is now a convicted doper – but also to his bank account. He had assembled a large team of lawyers and advisers and will have to meet the cost of this in full. Indeed the UCI is seeking a €2,485,000 fine from Contador and the CAS has said it will review this decision at a later date. In addition Contador could have to pay for the UCI’s legal expenses and more.

The Saxo Bank team loses here their star rider. They counted on him for the Pro Tour status. He will be back for the 2012 Vuelta and his participation seems guaranteed but it remains to be seen what happens. There could be automatic clauses in the contract to sack him for doping offences. If the UCI take his ranking points away then Saxo will struggle for ranking points to stay in the top flight for 2013.

Saxo Banned? There is some talk that the team could lose its ProTeam status with the UCI. I’m less sure. The UCI’s Licence Commission is set to review things and here’s rule 2.15.040:

The licence commission may withdraw the licence… …if the information taken into account in granting the licence or the registration of the UCI ProTeam has changed such that the issue conditions are no longer fulfilled, or the commission considers that the new situation does not justify the issue of a licence or registration

I’ve edited the text for brevity. The information used to award the licence was based on Contador having a full set of results and the corresponding sackful of ranking points. But the decision was taken in good faith and any retrospective decision would be unlikely given the Saxo Bank team management is not at fault here. The situation was far from identical but Riccardo Riccò’s ban did not jeopardise Vacansoleil’s licence. This would be harsh on the sponsors, riders and staff alike who have not been blamed by the UCI, WADA or CAS today.

The Spanish Federation loses too as the UCI and WADA were appealing the RFEC ruling. Their decision to absolve Contador comes in for strong criticism and I tend to agree that the RFEC did not follow its own rules, namely that it was up to Contador and his defence team to prove in the balance of probability that the contaminated beef hypothesis was correct.

Winners? Andy Schleck becomes the winner of the 2010 Tour de France, Michele Scarponi is the 2011 Giro d’Italia winner. Many other race results are rejigged. But of course nobody can climb onto a podium or spray champagne at the crowds and enjoy the moment so there are no winners. Here’s the response from Andy Schleck:

“I feel sad for Alberto. I always believed in his innocence. This is just a very sad day for cycling. The only positive news is that there is a verdict after 566 days of uncertainty. We can finally move on… …I trust that the CAS judges took all things into consideration after reading a 4,000 page file. If now I am declared overall winner of the 2010 Tour de France it will not make me happy

WADA is the winner today, its Code and the principle of strict liability is upheld in full.

What about those who escaped a ban for Clenbuterol? There have been cases of German table-tennis players and Mexican footballers escaping a ban despite a positive test for clenbuterol. CAS ruled that the probability of food contamination was likely in China, where the German visited, and Mexico. However with Contador it says this is less likely, below the balance of probability.

UCI reaction is out and the quote attributed to UCI President Pat McQuaid is as follows:

This is a sad day for our sport. Some may think of it as a victory, but that is not at all the case. There are no winners when it comes to the issue of doping: every case, irrespective of its characteristics, is always a case too many.

Sad perhaps but the UCI will breathe a big sigh of relief as it has spent a small fortune prosecuting this case with WADA. The news even took the UCI by surprise.

Juicy detail: At one point Contador’s defence was arguing with the UCI and WADA over the weight of the calf from which the veal steak came from. Based on the weight of the cut, 3.2kg, they extrapolated the weight of the calf. One side said 350kg, the other said under 290kg.

Conclusion
Contador’s claimed his positive test came after eating a contaminated veal sirloin. Yet he could not prove this. Under WADA rules adopted by the UCI it is up to the athlete to prove accidental ingestion and non-negligence to escape sanction, or shorten a ban. Therefore CAS quoted the WADA rules that a two year ban should be imposed.

My opinion is that this is a firm ruling, perhaps the principle of proportionality could have been applied to state the 50 picograms per millilitre concentration was modest and, by extension, a reduced ban imposed.

Nevertheless, in reading the full award from the CAS, I’m surprised by the relatively weak arguments put forward by his defence team. At one point they attempted to cite wider components of Swiss law and redefine certain issues. But the CAS rejected this novel approach, sticking instead to ruling on whether the WADA/UCI rules were applied by the RFEC. If Contador couldn’t prove where the contamination came from then the rules are clear: a two year ban.

Contador spent a fortune on hiring the finest lawyers in the field only to have the black and white text of the WADA Code read back to him.

vanLoenen February 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Wow

Jon MacKinnon February 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I read that his 2011 Giro title will be stripped from him, meaning Michele Scarponi will be awarded it.

Grease Monster February 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Wow, not all is wrong with Pro Cycling after all!

H M February 6, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Why does this end in August 2012 not January 2014 ??

Steve February 6, 2012 at 12:43 pm

How can they classify his ban as 2 years when it is in effect only 7 months without racing?

norbs February 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Lance slipped off the hook, but not Alberto.

Grease Monster February 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm

Do we know the findings of the court, was strict liability enforced or was UCI+WADA’s argument of contamination via transfusion accepted?

thecyclingweb February 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm

@Steve

Because all his results since the infringement will be nullified (probably/possibly) so he will become persona non grata – as if he had never taken part in those events.

Simma February 6, 2012 at 12:51 pm

He was always going to lose his tour and giro wins based on the letter of the law.

The best part of this is that HOPEFULLY the RFEC will think twice before throwing rules out the window because they like the guy (and any make sure any other national federation doesn’t take liberties either), which was the most shocking part of this whole process to me. In fact if they had just handed him that 1 year sentence like they should of he’d be riding this years tour and would of saved a lot of money… excellent marksmanship when it comes to their feet!

daniel February 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Well at least we get two clean new GT winners to welcome

Robert February 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Although 2 years is the correct length, the rest of this decision makes a mockery of sport in general. AC has been able to race in the intervening period – there was a time when the ban ran from the day after your last day of competition, seems those days are gone. In that time AC has raced and won the Giro and raced the Tour. How do the riders feel now that were racing then and the argument that he didn’t have an impact on either result is flawed as he competed in time trials, he competed in mountain stages and thus had to be watched/marked by other teams. Even in the Giro, who is to say Scarponi would have won had Contador not been there ?

It seems the old adage in sport of ‘You can only compete against what is in front of you’ no longer applies.

ali February 6, 2012 at 12:56 pm

big grin on farmstrong face. Bertie didn’t quite have the same amount of money, he is not american and not a friend of Dickquaid.

Gavin Murdock February 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I have mixed feeling about this result. I like watching him race and I didn’t feel that he won the Tour because of the clenbuterol so all in all I just feel robbed of the chance of seeing him contest this years Tour de France.
If the sport had a better track record of consistently catching and punishing dopers I guess I’d feel less hard-done-by.

Felipe February 6, 2012 at 1:00 pm

For the first time I have to agree with Pat McQuaid: There are no winners when it comes to the issue of doping. Everybody loses. That was the case for Contador and for all who competed against him in those 500+ days.

Looking over my shoulder February 6, 2012 at 1:01 pm

Is it two years from 25 January 2011 or from August 2010?

daniel February 6, 2012 at 1:07 pm

25th Jan

Kevin February 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm

When I first saw this, I thought it was a joke. I would have bet money the ruling would be delayed again. I guess that is why I am not a betting man.

daniel February 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Taking into account the 6 months served

Alex February 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Thanks for your tweet clarifying the ban period.

It seems very odd that they think that the +ve was “more likely caused by the ingestion of a contaminated food supplement” and yet still ban him for the maximum term.

I suspect (like many) that Contador is/was a doper, but this doesn’t display any proof of that at all.

I’m happy with a 2 year ban if that’s all they can make stick, when there’s further evidence to suggest doping. But if there is, we’ve never seen any of it (aside from the pretty weak plasticizer thing).

It doesn’t feel right to me at all. Especially when you look at the people about to inherit the GT wins.

dan alpin February 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

flabbergasted!!!

Umut February 6, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I think the sanction is not like “You doped, now you are banned.” But it’s more like “There is a neglicence, you were not careful. Pay attention what you eat. You are banned.”

oliver February 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm

N’est pas Lance qui veut!

Larry T. February 6, 2012 at 2:25 pm

It’s hard to feel good about this though I do believe it’s a fair judgement. I was really hoping the steak excuse wouldn’t fly but now we have new “winners” of the 2010 TdF and 2011 Giro….the Tour “winner” with a flimsy excuse as to why his brother sent a pile of euros to the Operation Puerto guy (and hard to believe any benefits from this exchange were not shared) while the new “winner” of the Giro is a guy who served a sanction for being involved in the same scheme. As I’ve said before, either way pro cycling looks bad…the average fan can say, “what took so long?” and “so the guy can race again later this year…how is THAT a two-year ban?” all while pondering that BigTex just beat his US federal rap. You REALLY must be a cycling fan to still care after all this crap….and we’re lucky the few sponsors left are still in the sport….the Saxo Bank folks have gotta be wondering what their sponsorship money is buying for them right now.

Mendip5000 February 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Oh my. A schleck wins the TDF, something I thought would never happen.

Do we have a reaction from Contador yet?

I’m struck by the fact that the rules say someone can be banned without there being proof that they doped. Are there other instances (sporting/non-sporting/legal) where a sanction can be put in place without proof? I just want to avoid basing my livelihood on them!!!

andrewp February 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Wada not complete winners. The Code principles remain intact, but they and UCI not assisting RFEC to their full capabilities the primary reason for the backdating of the start of the ban, and they have spent a huge amount of time effort and money to come up with a blood doping scenario that has been deemed as equally unlikely as the meat eating theory

Winternet_ February 6, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Never seen such a nonsensical verdict. If this is how athletes are treated, I feel sorry for them.
This is not the solution. This is not the way to fight doping and cheating on the sport.

It gives, however, a very strong message. Which is basically this: “We found ridiculous low levels of this illegal substance in this guy’s body. It’s proven that it has no bearing on his performance. We have no idea how it got there. We have no idea if the guy committed any foul play. We ban him for two years”. Yikes.

CAT4Fodder February 6, 2012 at 2:59 pm

I think the lesson to be learned here:

If you get caught doping…save the money, take your punishment, act contrite, wear dapper clothes, and earn loads of money on your book.

Breakaway Artist February 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Wow, his career is at steak…

ave February 6, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Last years Hungarian road champion was given 3 months suspension for the same thing.
(food suplement contamination)

Contador had very bad luck here… I hope he comes back and kick ass.
I actually now await the 2013 Tour more, than the 2012.

Breakaway Artist February 6, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Call me naive (or anything else for that matter) but
I make sense of this verdict by thinking Contador ingested something which contained clenbuterol and it was not deliberate doping.

Since he didn’t know how the substance entered his body, he had to invent something as he needed to prove the way the substance got into his body, so he took the obvious steak route.

He showed by his perfomances in 2011 that he can kick ass without doping.

While I don’t know his family history in detail, Contador seems to be a good guy, meaning he doesn’t seem to be carrying some major psychic trauma from youth for example, unlike Armstrong with his absent father and obsessive need of revenge and control, which fuelled, in my opinion, his drive and motivation. A situation I would say more prone to doping.

But hey, call me naive if you want…

Sorry for the pop-psych!

JimW February 6, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Difficult Monday for the PisteleroBigTexAstanaTrekSaxo camp.
Riding a high, that may be enhanced by football(US) interests, and stopped cold by CAS.
Even worse if a Pats fan.
Very low productivity out of the computer users today.

Ettore B. February 6, 2012 at 4:02 pm

I agree with Breakaway Artist, Alberto probably did not know how it entered his system so the steak was a likely scenario. However let it be said this will come back to hunt cycling. If a lab can detect small perturbations at the molecular level my prediction is that Clenbuterol or anything that can be taken over the counter can be a possible source of contamination so every cyclist from amateur to pro better be careful what they ingest. I am not sure I can spend the rest of my career examining every foodstuff that enters my body. You would have to hire a lab to carefully examine everything that enters your body. In my opinion, this is getting out of hand and going too far and only time will tell. Was Petacchi a doper because he used one or two shots of salbutamol, a drug for Asthma he was cleared to use? My point is there has to be limits and at what point the substance in question enhances performance.

Anonymous February 6, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Past bothering as they are all at it but finding the quotes today from riders + those involved in cycling quite comical….

Eddy Merckx “I think people want to kill off cycling”
Oscar Pereiro “He is innocent. I know him”
Scarponi “I’m very sorry for Alberto”

Do these guys actually have a clue what is going on here? Positive after positive, 2 tour de france winners recently stripped of their titles. Olympic champions handing back their medals etc etc.

The rules are the rules, it doesnt matter how it got in there or what level its at. Clenbuterol from a steak? Give us a break Alberto.

GatorGene February 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Mendip5000: The rules violation was proven. The rule says not to have clenbuterol in your body, and they proved Contador had clenbuterol in his body. There is a clause for leniency, which puts the burden of proof back on the violator, but Contador could not meet those conditions for leniency.

Ettore B.: Salbutamol gives a performance enhancement. Because of that, there were rules about when Petacchi could use the salbutamol. He didn’t follow those rules. In fact, the test results couldn’t show whether the usage came too soon after the finish or before the finish. We know what Petacchi said (too soon after), but it is still possible that a shot or two before the finish changed the result of the race.

All: Is there a significant difference between an accidental doper and an intentional doper?

David February 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm

I’m very disappointed with all of this. I can’t help but think Contador was expecting the ban, which is why he ended up racing in Argentina recently. The problem I have is that when you are banned you are normally not allowed to participate in any events or do things like team training camps. In effect, the ban isn’t just a ban, it deprives you of competition. In cycling two years away from racing is a lot. What message does this send to other cyclists? Appeal. Find a way to continue racing and if you get your timing right you’ll hardly miss any of the actual season and will be race fit from the moment your ban ends.

haps February 6, 2012 at 4:41 pm

comments in spanish media is furious –
http://www.as.com/ciclismo/articulo/pereiro-sentencia-hijos-gran/20120206dasdascic_4/Tes
it is a tricky one – I think he “cheated” – but as I understand the verdict – blood-transfusion were as unlikely as the famous Basque steak – he is being convicted for not being able to prove his innocence or where the clenbuterol came into his blood – I did not study law but shite sounds tricky to me….

i believe they got their man – but the process have been way to long – which is not only for the wada to blame….
and after the lance-case – the perspective becomes somewhat muddy…

Velo Peloton February 6, 2012 at 4:46 pm

“In the Panel’s opinion on the basis of the evidence adduced, the presence of clenbuterol was more likely caused by the ingestion of a contaminated food supplement.”
They are saying he is innocent of doping but they are giving him the maximum punishment for being unable to explain what the contaminant is. Bizarre and unjust!! The only winner here is the butchers shop in Irun. The biggest loser is the sport of cycling.

Anonymous February 6, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Why is catching these guys a loss to cycling?
Basso, Hamilton, Ullrich, Landis, Contador, Heras, Pantani, Zabel, Riis, Virenque, Zulle, Aldag,Rumsas, Rasmussen, Vandenbroucke, Musseuw, Camenzind (world champion), Di Luca, Millar, Pettachi, Vinokourov, Ricco, Valverde, Sevilla, Koblonev.I could go on all day.
Also worth noting the number of riders here that have never tested positive.
The sport really is in the pits. Almost every single guy I have cheered on has been caught and riders still have the audacity to stand up and say “i’ve never tested positive” when asked if they have taken drugs. Is that not what all the Festina guys said…..
when will the penny drop folks?

Winternet_ February 6, 2012 at 5:49 pm

Positive test for the blood booster CERA + syringes and equipment for intravenous drips found + confession = 20 months
50 picograms of clenbuterol = 24 months

Yep, it makes perfect sense.

ddraver February 6, 2012 at 5:54 pm

@JimW – DUDE, SPOILER!!!!!!!

Winternet_ February 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm

You guys do realize that Alberto was not convicted for doping, right? He was convicted because there were traces of an illegal substance in his body. You do know the difference?

Playvelo February 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm

I just went through the report. One section that stood out for me was #16 in the in the “II. Factual Background Section” “A blood sample was also taken on Mr Contador on the morning of 20 July 2010. Such blood samples also contained clenbuterol at a concentration of around 1 ug/ml”

July 20th is the morning of Stage 16. If you don’t remember that was the day Armstrong went into the break and it also included many HC climbs. It was also the day before the rest day and Alberto’s infamous tainted steak. Why go through the motions of tracing the source of the steak, or even claiming that the steak was the source of the failed test, when he tested positive the day before? Shame on you Alberto. You deserve your punishment.

Doug February 6, 2012 at 6:27 pm

It is certainly fair to start the ban retroactively – you can’t penalize him all those wins and also make him sit out two years if the intent was for a 2-year ban.
One thing is sure – Bertie’s gonna be pissed, not to mention good and ready, when he rolls out for the Vuelta in August. If he doesn’t win in Madrid by a quarter of an hour, I’ll be surprised.

JimW February 6, 2012 at 6:28 pm

@Playvelo.
Your timeline discovery means nothing when it’s revealed the steak to be of the time traveling variety.
A very rare delicacy popular in the tacky new money circle.

Nice try though.

CAT4Fodder February 6, 2012 at 6:33 pm

So is it safe to say that Evans is now the favorite to repeat as TdF winner?

Playvelo February 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm

@JimW
I don’t think the WADA code allows for time traveling steak. Maybe time traveling whiskey. Oh wait that didn’t work either…

STS February 6, 2012 at 7:01 pm

This decision maybe complies to the WADA rules. So from that point of view it might be considered just. But it does not serve the fight against doping and it also does not comply with one of the fundamental laws, the benefit of the doubt. Which is kind of an undisputed axiom in any jurisdictional system worth its name.

But even more important than this is what it does to our sport. It eventually buries its image in the eye of the general public and it is that image which attracts sponsors (or makes them run away). And it will provide us with the most boring TdFs in history from 2013 on when AC will be allowed to ride again. That proceeding has cost him so much money that he has to come back. And he will probably be even more motivated, fast and cannibalesque than ever before.

trounder February 6, 2012 at 7:08 pm

The blame for this pain falls mainly upon Spain.

If the “logic” found within the Spanish Federation’s ruling could not be relied upon in the appeal to CAS, then Contador was effectively on his own to prove his innocence.

In any case, the AC holiday may be relatively short lived, since he will (I think) be eligible to race the Vuelta, Lombaria, Worlds, Tour of Utah, and other prestigious races beginning in August of this year!

@Inrng: What’s on Conta’s Calendar for 2012?

Playvelo February 6, 2012 at 7:14 pm

@trounder He could race San Sebastian this year since the Olympics have pushed back the date this year to August 14th. The Vuelta starts the 18th. My guess is he stays in friendly Spain for the remainder of the season.

Joachim February 6, 2012 at 7:43 pm

“presence of clenbuterol was more likely caused by the ingestion of a contaminated food supplement.”

What is the liability difference from a CONTAMINATED food supplement or contaminated meat? Contaminated = Not Contador’s fault, or what world are we living in????

Kieran February 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Questions + comments …..
1 – Why does it have to take so long to dispense justice? UCI/WADA/CAS ….
2 – A sport is in crisis whenever a world #1 tests positive!
3 – Why would a rider of Contdor’s ability dope in 2010 in a wide open race?
Did he think other riders were doping OR is he not that good and doping all along?
4 – How did Spanish fed clear Contador in the first place? this decision is at odds with UCI/WADA/CAS – why is that?
5 – Can anyone name a strong anti doping advocate from Spain in cycling/media/government …. a major cultural shift is still required. Already the spanish media/riders/Fed are out backing Contador as the victim! Not suprising given Valverde’s claims to be innocent.
6 – Interesting how quite twitter was with riders comments. The team PR machines taking over :(

Big Mikey February 6, 2012 at 8:42 pm

@ Joachim – it’s called strict liability, look it up. We’ve seen some notable athletes screwed b/c of a tainted supplement.

+1 the comments above re Spain’s jingoistic approach to rider infractions. I’m sure this was part of why the full Puerto list was never released. Nadal, Spanish Soccer, and other sportsmen were sure to be caught up in that. Blind nationalism at its best.

Wasn’t it always going to come to this decision? Is it coincidence that he is fully convicted for the two year term, but he’ll be back before the summer is over? This was a negotiated arrangement, which is why it took so long to deliver.

serge February 6, 2012 at 10:01 pm

Two comments:

1. His results have been given a two year ban – he just has a one year ban split in two parts (last 1/2 of 2010 & first 1/2 of 2012).

2. There was a presidential election in Spain at the time of the RFEC decision in January 2011 – both main candidates came out in favour of Contador. RFEC is funded by the Spanish Government (I believe) so they had little choice if they wanted to keep their jobs (whatever they believed). Politics should stay out of sport it’s just messy when they butt in.

(I’m not sure who makes me sick more; dopers or politicians.)

CAT4Fodder February 6, 2012 at 11:17 pm

Serge:

then let’s pray Lance never runs for office!

The Inner Ring February 6, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Thanks for all the comments so far, I’ve been reading them all of course but today has been so busy with the verdict and the 100 page CAS document that I’ve not had time to reply to the questions as usual.

Tricky Dicky February 6, 2012 at 11:21 pm

@inrng. What about another potential loser in all this – Richie Porte. Bet he wishes he refused the Murdoch dollar now: he’d have a whole team lined up behind him, his favoured mentor as his DS (Brad McGee) and in a year where the Tour route suits him like no other. Instead he’s 3rd or 4th string in the workhorse group for Wiggins and co.

Priestie February 7, 2012 at 2:11 am

A bet Bjarne is disappointed he lost Porte!

diamondjim February 7, 2012 at 2:21 am

Congratulations, Inner Ring! My recollection is that you called the eventual CAS verdict with your first article, way back when the positive test was announced.
Uncontested blood-test positive + lack of proof for an alibi + strict liability = 2 year ban. Simple, black and white.
You called it on day one. It’s just a shame that it took another 500 odd days for it to get to this point.
For the record, I’m not sure that it’s all fair, or whether Bertie was cheating, but in its essence this is a very simple case, the rules were applied (eventually) and that’s about all there is to it.

Touriste-Routier February 7, 2012 at 4:41 am

Without getting into the merits of the case or the decision, I’d like to question the possible ramifications of the over-turning of results (messy enough), but more importantly the associated UCI points, particularly on the 2012 teams. I’ll let others do the math (hint, hint), but since Saxo Bank is in danger of losing their World Tour status; AC represented 68% of their points, they are now subject to UCI License Commission review. ..

If the UCI removes them from the World Tour and places them in Conti-Pro: a) What does that do to their “automatic” race entries/invites already received or announced (which affects them and the race organizers)? b) Will they automatically qualify for Wild Card status (which could mitigate the question asked in a)? c) Will another team be eligible to be upgraded to Pro Tour status (based solely upon the new points tally or in conjunction with the other factors) for 2012 and receive the privileges of such (automatic invites)?

JimW February 7, 2012 at 5:20 am

@Touriste-Routier
You bring up a very good point.
Even more worrying when the UCI can ruin a team by picking and choosing who gets caught and when. The whole show has become a theater of the absurd and all participants are willingly playing the fool. From the fans to the big boss at the top.
At this point it’s half the reason I keep coming back. My life isn’t very interesting currently.
Yeah, that’s my excuse.

The Giro list is already sorted I thought. New trophy and a start list reprint? Mamma Mia!

2jewc February 7, 2012 at 5:28 am

tricky and priestie, yes, porte and bjarne must have that thought eating their insides right now

cat4fooder- without a doubt, cadel is top pick at this point. timetrial heavy tour.. he is the best time trialist among the climbers, and he is the best climber among the timetrialists

BjornN February 7, 2012 at 6:26 am

Bertie and Tex get opposite decisions within days of each other! Let’s start the conspiracy theories rolling- Lance had Evil Genius (aka Bruyneel) syringe the veal sirloin in the kitchen b4 dinner!!! And Lance wouldn’t even come out and accept a watch from Bertie…something’s fishy.

MattK February 7, 2012 at 6:57 am

This has to be one of the craziest rulings I have read in a while. They state that he is most likely not guilty of any intentional wrong doing, but he he is guilty by strict interpretation of the rules. At the very least with a ruling like this, I would have expected a recommendation that the rules be revisited.

Also, I don’t think a lot of people can appreciate how small a picogram is. We are talking about detecting things at the individual molecular level, which I had an interesting discussion with a college tonight about. Both of us have had access and seen some pretty advance tech, but neither of us could imagine a test or process that would result in being able to detect at the picogram level. For scientists this is science fiction kind of tech, which I would really like to see and I highly doubt would be found admissible in a normal court of law.

As for questions about his suspension time. It is quite common in normal legal cases that when the defendant has been in prison for the duration of a prolong trial or the penalty is backdated, that the total term be backdated to point of incarceration or the point from which the penalty is being applied. Otherwise, he would be effectively penalized for 2 years + the 500 days this trial has gone on. Remember he will most likely have to pay back all his prize earnings and will have to fight to not have to pay the UCI’s legal fees (although based on the wording in the ruling, I would say he has a pretty good case in showing that his fight was justified).

Velo Peloton February 7, 2012 at 8:44 am

+1 MattK
I’ll be surprised if Contador does not go to Europe with this. That could take years. Imagine in 2020 this decision being reversed and Schleck striped of his Tour win and it given back to Contador. The result is unjust and allowing him to win the Giro with a valid licence and now striping him of it sounds like a lawyer’s wet-dream.

MattK February 7, 2012 at 9:53 am

With $2.3+million dollars in returned earnings, I would be more than a bit surprised if this doesn’t go into protracted litigation. The other added factor that hasn’t been addressed was McQuaid’s alleged attempted to keep the test results quiet, if there was any validity to this, this would be the time to roll this out and use it what will probably be some serious backroom arbitration.
I would have really like this trial to result in some serious re-evaluation of rules. I can only imagine the stress even clean athletes go through when submitting a sample, because under the current rules any amount is a ban. Now with the supposed ability to test at the picogram level (one trillionth of a gram!) there raises all kinds of ways you can test positive for a wide range of substances. Clen has a short metabolic life, but other banned substances can be stored in fat cells and released almost randomly. In cycling, where body fat is very low this may be less likely, but in other sports it may soon be a risk.

To make this sport fair, I agree with the anti-doping stance, but it needs to be metering with logic and certain level of fairness. That is to say, if you test positive once and there is little evidence that you could have been using the tested substance for performance enhancement we give you a warning and you are watched more closely. Also an attempt is given to do a medical analysis of how the substance could have been entered into your system both accidentally and intentionally. Finally, contested test results are sent to an independent lab that has no financial stake in being able to prove positive doping results. To my outside eye, these points are only vaguely being met currently and it makes many doping cases questionable.

Bundle February 7, 2012 at 10:07 am

Well, finally this has been a case of the labs being able to test things they were not supposed to. Arroyo lost a Vuelta because Ritalin became detectable when riders didn’t know it, and so did Freddy Maertens in the Flèche Wallonne because of Stimul. Nothing new. Both felt the santioning system had betrayed them by surprising them. Riders will of course continue to dope to the limit of detection, and not to the limits set out in the code. That’s the way this game is played. No one should be overwhelmingly happy or sad.
But retroactive sanctions, rewriting results where there was no positive control, seems wrong to me. The regulations allowing it should definitely be deleted. I also agree that proportionality should have taken more into account.
And strict liability proving to be such a fishy, un-juridical, principle, that has led the CAS to establish a difference between being guilty of doping and convicted of dpoing, it will surely meet its death the next time it is invoked. Luckily not this time. :)

AndrewAlpen February 7, 2012 at 11:21 am

My only problem is with a retrospective ban. It is like trying to put the cork back into the champagne bottle.
We have to presume he raced clean in the intervening period, because he was constantly being tested. The common sense would be to leave those results and start a ban today.
Andy schleck doesnt feel any more like a tour de france winner today than when he was standing on the second step back in 2010.
sigh…..

The Inner Ring February 7, 2012 at 11:38 am

diamondjim: thanks, CAS is there to arbitrate on the rules and as such it’s often harsh. I did think he’d be out for two years but later I saw he’d hired a top lawyer called Adam Lewis from London who has got WADA bans reduced several times on the basis of “proportionality” and I think case history from his work has been incorporated into WADA code. Given the small concentration, I did think the ban could be reduced to a year.

But it came down to probability as predicted before (http://inrng.com/2012/01/contador-cas-case/ and http://inrng.com/2011/11/contador-appeal-update/) and since nobody could prove the source of the contamination, yet alone that it was wholly accidental, he gets a ban.

MattK: note it wasn’t one picogram, but 50 and in a concentration per millilitre. Does this alter the thoughts?

AndrewAlpen: the timing of the ban is confusing but again CAS is applying the rules. It’s not there to say when a good time to start the ban is, simply to read the WADA Code and say “ok, rule 123 says XYZ”.

This is unsatisfactory though, it means an athlete can try to delay and delay their hearing, giving them more chance to compete and to bank their salary every month. One lesson here would be ways to find an incentive to expedite the case.

Bundle February 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Well, having been through the fascinating text produced by the CAS, including discussions on Contador’s emiction capacity, the way meat is cut, named, and sold in Spain, the importance of bad acquaintances both for cattle-breeders and cyclists, and the possibility that the clembuterol came from someone else’s contaminated plasma, I am left with a simple question:
Why is the inadvertent ingestion of clembuterol-contaminated food supplements more incriminating or less exonerating than the inadvertent ingestion of clembuterol-contaminated meat.? What is the big difference here? (Interestingly, neither the Panel nor the Athlete pose this question. But I guess we laymen could benefit from an explanation).

ave February 7, 2012 at 12:10 pm

>I’ll be surprised if Contador does not go to Europe with this.
I agree. I’m sure rules were followed, but rules like these are shouldn’t be in place.
WADA should not ruin anybody’s career based on probability.

Peter February 7, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Imagine you’re working in a profession – let’s say mining – that have experienced some troubles with crime. Therefore, your union decides that everyone has to fill out a plan that clearly states where you will be 3 months ahead, in order to be able to search peoples’ homes for stolen things and to interrogate them 24/7.

One day, the union shows up at work, and say that they just searched your home and found a stolen pen. You claim you do not know how that pen was found in your home, and tell the union your innocent. You also initially try to convince the union that even if you took the pen by accident, it constitutes such a small offense that the case should be dropped – this leads nowhere though, as the union holds firm that even the smallest offense – significant or not – is still an offense.

One and a half years after this, the final verdict comes from the supreme court (you won in the first instance).

The verdict goes through the possible scenarios, and concludes that there are 3 possible scenarios:

Scenario 1 – the most likely – in which the pen came into your home by accident and without your knowing

Scenario 2 – unlikely, but still possible – and corresponding to scenario 1

Scenario 3 – unlikely, but still possible – and the only scenario in which you deliberately took the pen

Based on this, the supreme court decides to give you the toughest sentencing possible, stripping you of the right to work and fining you an amount you can only barely afford to pay.

I generally believe cycling is going in the right direction, and my feeling is that Contador himself knows how this came into his body (and is wasn’t meat).

Still, when you try to put the judicial aspects of the case in perspective, I believe the system is simply crazy when it can deliver a verdict like this. Something has to be changed. Perhaps minor adjustments would be fine – but something definitely has to be changed.

the lower depths February 7, 2012 at 12:53 pm

the ban is the ban, alright, we have to deal with that … it took them almost 2 years to arrive at that decision in a manner we’ll never comprehend … but the stripping of titles baffles me deeply.

he was cleared to race with a license granted by the (sanctimonious) UCI.
WADA and CAS made no objections.
as a suspected doper and leader of all the races he participated in, he was tested above and beyond.
and now he loses it all but can come back in August.

hopefully there is ‘fire in his belly’ (i’ll never get tired of that one!) for the Vuelta and whatever comes next. hopefully his team will stand with him as he’s the best chance they have for the big stage races.

and hopefully we’ll hear a press release or interview from AC to see what he’s thinking?
undeniably on e of the best stage racers … i hope he’s still in the game after this, he does light it up!

the lower depths February 7, 2012 at 1:43 pm

another small thought, if i may?

the new lab that was used to test AC, the one with the ‘overly sensitive’ equipment … are they being used by the UCI, and have they been used since then?

it seems that with such finely tuned equipment, the fight fight against doping has a new and powerful ally there … just saying …

The Inner Ring February 7, 2012 at 1:50 pm

the lower depths: the Cologne lab has very sensitive equipment but note testing varies. Sometimes urine, sometimes blood. And once the sample is collected, the test method can vary as can the substances searched for.

Here are the stats from the 2010 Tour de France, showing how many of each type were done:
Urine, Standard only: 65
Urine, Standard + EPO: 144
Urine, IRMS: 30
Urine, Other: 12
Blood, hGH only: 33
Blood, ABP only19: 124
Blood, CERA only: 32
Blood, HBT: 26
Blood, ABP (samples collected three days before the Prologue): 198

Sean February 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm

I just can’t believe that there are people out there who still find it in their hearts to believe in Contador. He is a cheat, he managed to wriggle his way out of Puerto, he managed to wriggle his way out of serving a proper ban, he managed to destroy others chances at races that he should never have been at. All that and that stupid fecking pistolero crap. He should have been banned for that alone. What an ar5e.

Superstantial February 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm

Andy Schleck speaks like a true sportsman and a great champion:

“I feel sad for Alberto. I always believed in his innocence. This is just a very sad day for cycling. The only positive news is that there is a verdict after 566 days of uncertainty. We can finally move on… …I trust that the CAS judges took all things into consideration after reading a 4,000 page file. If now I am declared overall winner of the 2010 Tour de France it will not make me happy.”

I love that guy.

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