LLUCMAJOR, Spain (VN) – Alberto Contador received the worst possible news Monday: a two-year ban and the loss of his 2010 Tour de France crown as well as all results in 2011 and 2012.
Contador’s ban is back-dated and discounted for time during his provisional ban, meaning he will be able to return to competition on August 6.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport handed down the long-awaited ruling in the Spaniard’s long-running clenbuterol case as promised Monday (see statement below).
Contador becomes the second rider in Tour history to have his victory taken away for a doping violation – Floyd Landis was stripped of the 2006 Tour win after testing positive for synthetic testosterone.
Contador insists traces of clenbuterol entered his system after he ate contaminated steaks.
After months of deliberation, CAS rejected Contador’s arguments and overturned acquittal by the Spanish cycling federation in the controversial case that dragged on for more than a year and a half.
There was no immediate response from Contador.
“This is a sad day for our sport,” said UCI president Pat McQuaid in a statement by the cycling federation released Monday confirming the CAS ruling. “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.”
Contador tested positive for 50 picograms per milliliter of the muscle-building stimulant (a picogram is one trillionth of a gram) in urine samples collected on the Tour’s second rest day. The samples were analyzed in a WADA-approved lab in Cologne, Germany, one of the few labs in the world with the precise equipment to allow the detection of such small amounts.
Contador’s legal team claimed that the clenbuterol entered his system after eating steaks that were purchased in Irun, near the Spanish-French border, and brought to France, where Contador and some other then-Astana teammates dined on the team bus.
After the Spanish cycling federation cleared Contador, he immediately returned to competition, winning the Murcia and Catalunya tours ahead of the 2011 Giro d’Italia. He later finished fifth in the 2011 Tour.
WADA and UCI joined in an appeal and argued that Contador should receive a full ban.
The CAS statement:
“The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has rendered its decision in the arbitration between the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) & the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador & the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC): the CAS has partially upheld the appeals filed by WADA and the UCI and has found Alberto Contador guilty of a doping offence.
“As a consequence, Alberto Contador is sanctioned with a two-year period of ineligibility starting retroactively on 25 January 2011, minus the period of the provisional suspension served in 2010-2011 (5 months and 19 days). The suspension should therefore come to an end on 5 August 2012.”