Spanish Farmers Divided Over Contador

Whilst some farmers have been in uproar over the idea that their cattle are doped, it seems others are adopting a more generous stance towards Alberto Contador and his allegations.

Andy Schleck preferred the lamb reports that a letter has been sent directly to UCI President Pat McQuaid warning that some unscrupulous parts of the food supply chain are relying on imported meat that is laden with contaminated substances.

I’d make three responses to this.

  • First, why on earth did the Astana cook need meat from Spain? It’s not as if the beef in Pau is bad. Indeed, French cattle are some of the finest in the world and it’s not uncommon to find restaurants vaunting Charollais, Aubrac or Limousin beef, just as the Japanese celebrate Wagyu or Kobe beef and the Scots are proud of their Angus beasts.
  • Second, Contador is responsible for everything he eats. He is wealthy enough to have a whole team at his disposition, with mechanics, soigneurs, coaches and cooks all ready to help. Perhaps this is a very expensive lesson but teams should think very carefully about where they buy their food. Maybe think about 100% organic or bio food.
  • Finally, and most importantly, the meat in question can be traced back. Europe has in the past suffered from bovine diseases like Foot and Mouth and also BSE, the so-called “Mad Cow Disease”. Following this, strict food hygiene rules mean that any meat sold has to be traceable. Specific software and documentation exist solely to allow a paper trail backwards from the plate to the field. If the meat was contaminated, whether in Spain or abroad, it should be possible to find some other cuts and test it. For more traceability, see my earlier explanation on the system.

But the main point here is that letter writing doesn’t help much. The WADA code does not care for possible reasons and whilst this is very tough, it’s the rules. Put simply Contador has tested positive and now the onus is on him to prove the contamination was accidental, rather than present letters supporting his hypothesis is theoretically possible. The letter should have been addressed to his defence team.