|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.