Contador case: Pierre Bordry, Rasmus Damsgaard, Michel Audran and riders react
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Contador case: Pierre Bordry, Rasmus Damsgaard, Michel Audran and riders react

by Ben Atkins at 11:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
Anti-doping experts divided over Tour de France winner’s positive; colleagues supportive

alberto contadorWith the sport of cycling still reeling from the news that Tour de France winner Alberto Contador returned a positive test for banned substance Clenbuterol, a number of the World’s most prominent anti-doping experts have spoken up, as well as a number of riders. Opinion is divided within the anti-doping experts, but on the whole the riders are supportive of their colleague.

Rasmus Damsgaard, the founder of the anti-doping system used by a number of teams, including Contador’s Astana team until last year, is one that does not believe in the Spanish rider’s innocence.

“If the data is correct then it’s most likely that it is a ‘Landis’,” Damsgaard told Danish TV station TV2 via SMS. “It would suggest that he has received a transfusion of his own blood, taken out a few months earlier when he used Clenbuterol, which he has gotten back into his body.”

Damsgaard refers to the case of Floyd Landis, whose positive test for exogenous testosterone during the 2006 Tour is still disputed by the American. Landis admitted to having doped through much of his career, including that Tour, but continues to deny using testosterone; one of the explanations offered for the testosterone positive is that the blood he illegally transfused during the race was taken from his body during a time when he was using the substance.

“The only other explanation,” claims Damsgaard, “is that the lab made a mistake with both the A and B samples.”

Pierre Bordry, the outgoing head of France’s anti-doping agency, the Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD), sits firmly alongside Damsgaard with the belief that the Spanish rider must have been up to something he shouldn’t.

“There have been suspicions of doping going back to the end of July,” said Bordry in an interview with French radio station RMC. “We have some information today, but what I’m anxiously waiting for is the report of the World Anti -Doping Agency [WADA] to verify what the product is and how it got into this cyclist’s samples.”

When asked if he thought that Contador could have ingested the substance through the eating of meat, Bordry said: “I find it very difficult to believe, but you never know what could happen.”

Coming out on Contador’s side though is Professor Michel Audran, one of the founders of the UCI’s Biological Passport system. Audran takes the opposite view to Bordry and Damsgaard, saying that the amount of the product found supports the Spanish rider’s claim that he didn’t knowingly ingest Clenbuterol.

“The main thing I see is the low dose found in Contador’s urine,” he told RMC. “When I see 50 picos [picograms] it’s nothing, it’s 500 to 1000 times less than the doses found in doping cases. For me, it cannot be intentional, it’s a case of contamination.”

Audran acknowledges that Clenbuterol has been used in the peloton in the past, but claims that its deliberate use by Contador was unlikely. “… because it is detectable,” he said, “it cannot be masked like other products. A pretender to the Tour does not use Clenbuterol, and Contador did not win the Tour with it.”

Audran sees three ways by which the Spaniard could have come to have the product in his system. “Either by the consumption of meat containing the substance, by taking a contaminated dietary supplement, or by doping with an undetectable substance that could too be contaminated.”

While the scientific community is divided, Contador’s peers in the peloton seem to be largely supportive of the Spaniard.

Saxo Bank’s Andy Schleck is arguably the person who would have the most to gain from Contador’s disqualification, since he would automatically take one step up to the top of the podium. Rather than celebrate the possibility of his first ever Tour victory though, the Luxembourger is standing behind his friend.

“What a crazy day in cycling with the news about Contador,” he said via his Twitter page, “ I only heard about it in the press I hope he is innocent and I think he deserves the right to defend himself now.”

Czech rider Roman Kreuziger, currently at Liquigas-Doimo but due to replace Contador at Astana in 2011, was equally surprised by the news. “I'm back after train home and had saw bad news about Contador,” he tweeted, “hope he is innocent!”

The news has also surprised a number of former riders; Laurent Jalabert, the most successful French rider of recent years spoke to RMC.

“We remain, as I do, incredulous at this announcement,” said the 1995 Vuelta a España winner. “You would have thought that it was a joke, but at the same time it was already so well known that we know that it’s possible. It’s a big surprise anyway; we did not expect this one.”

Currently at the World Championships in Melbourne Australia Cedric Vasseur, president of the International Professional Cyclists Association (CPA), expressed his views on the subject via Twitter. The former rider, who won two stages of the tour and wore the yellow jersey in 1997, commented, not on the possible explanations for Contador’s positive, but on the inevitable consequences for a sport.

“Whatever the outcome of the Contador case, cycling is ridiculed in the eyes of the World once again… Bravo!”


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