With just days to go before the UCI must decide whether or not it will appeal the Spanish cycling federation’s ruling to clear Alberto Contador, UCI president Pat McQuaid says that the three-time Tour de France champion is not receiving preferential treatment.
The UCI has until a March 24 deadline to make the call whether to challenge the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but McQuaid refused to publicly speculate on what the UCI might do.
“Even if I knew, it wouldn’t be right for me to say,” McQuaid told VeloNews on Friday. “Our legal team is studying the dossier, but they haven’t indicated to me what they’re going to do. I saw our lawyer yesterday in Milan and I said to him to not even tell me until they make their decision. Then we can discuss it and make our final decision.”
McQuaid confirmed that UCI lawyers have been in contact with officials from WADA, but refused to speculate if the two organizations will agree to appeal the Contador ruling. In most appeals to CAS, WADA and the UCI have worked in unison to make the legal challenge to the sport court. WADA will have an additional 20 days to file an intention to appeal if the UCI decides it will not challenge the case to CAS.
McQuaid also insisted that Contador is being treated the same as any other rider despite some criticism about how the UCI initially handled the case from its inception back in August.
Minute traces of clenbuterol were discovered in Contador’s system in late August, but that result was not publicly revealed until a month later when German journalists were tipped off by sources within the Cologne lab that ran the Contador samples that someone had tested positive from the 2010 Tour. Pressed by media inquiries, the UCI quickly sent out a press release outlining the Contador case.
“He was not getting preferential treatment. We followed the rules,” McQuaid said. “What happened was when we got the report of the positive case, we discussed it with WADA, and decided to contact the athlete for an opinion for his reasoning on how it got into his system. There’s a provision in the rules that allows that. We decided we needed more time to study it to decide if we were going to pursue it or not. In the meantime, we told the athlete what was going on, that we were going to study this, to examine whether his argument that it came from steak was valid or not. We agreed we’ll say nothing and keep it confidential during that process. Then I got a call from German television who said they had information that someone had tested positive for clenbuterol but they didn’t know who it was. I said I didn’t know what they were talking about, but then we discussed it with WADA, and we decided if it was going to be leaked in the media, it was better to put out a press release.”
McQuaid also said he would leave the decision on whether or not clenbuterol should be reclassified within the anti-doping code as a threshold product to the experts.
“That’s for the scientists to decide,” McQuaid said. “Currently the rules call for strict liability, there is no threshold.”