Posted by Editor on 02/6/12
After months of delays, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has finally issued their decision on Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, announcing a two year ban for the positive test he recorded for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France on July 21, 2010. The Spanish federation had cleared Contador of any sanction, after accepting his argument that the drug entered his system through contaminated beef he had consumed, but the UCI and WADA appealed that decision to the CAS, who had now ruled in their favour.
The ban is retroactive, so he will be able to compete starting on August 5th of this year, however, all results in the intervening period - including his 2010 Tour de France win - will be voided. This means Andy Schleck will become the 2010 Tour de France champion. Contador's win in the 2011 Giro d'Italia will go to Michele Scarponi. He had served a provisional suspension already of five months and 19 days.
Interestingly, in its ruling, the CAS seemed to support Contador's argument that contamination was the cause of the positive (as opposed to a theory put forward by the UCI that it came via a blood transfusion), but that the inability of Contador to prove it was not accidental (as opposed to deliberate) led to their finding and the two year ban.
In the report, the CAS stated:
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. Unlike certain other countries, notably outside Europe, Spain is not known to have a contamination problem with clenbuterol in meat. Furthermore, no other cases of athletes having tested positive to clenbuterol allegedly in connection with the consumption of Spanish meat are known.
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.
Considering that none of the conditions for eliminating or reducing the period of ineligibility were met, on 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 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.
Schleck took little pleasure in his retroactive win, stating through a Radioshack-Nissan-Trek team e-mail: “There is no reason to be happy now. First of all 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 battled with Contador in that race and I lost. My goal is to win the Tour de France in a sportive way, being the best of all competitors, not in court. If I succeed this year, I will consider it as my first Tour victory.”
The UCI also released a statement:
The UCI acknowledges the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to impose a suspension on the rider Alberto Contador following the UCI’s appeal, brought in conjunction with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), in the case concerning the Spanish cyclist.
In rejecting the defence argument, in particular that the presence of clenbuterol in Alberto Contador's urine sample came from the consumption of contaminated meat, today's ruling confirms the UCI's position.
However, the UCI has not derived a sense of satisfaction from the CAS ruling, but rather welcomes the news as the end of a long-running affair that has been extremely painful for cycling.
Without wanting to enter into the details of the ruling, UCI President Pat McQuaid said: "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."
The UCI also had request a fine of 2,485,000 Euros (approximately $XX) as part of the their appeal, and the CAS has stated that they will rule on the fine a later date.
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