German journalist claims UCI denied Alberto Contador positive test, says rider may have received transfusions
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

German journalist claims UCI denied Alberto Contador positive test, says rider may have received transfusions

by VeloNation Press at 1:25 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
 
Alleges traces of a plasticizer in blood bags were found in rider’s blood sample

Alberto Contador Pat McQuaidHans Joachim Seppelt, a journalist with the German TV station ARD, has cast doubts on Alberto Contador’s explanation for his Clenbuterol positive, making the explosive claim that chemical traces in samples taken during the 2010 Tour de France suggest he may have received a blood transfusion.

Seppelt, who specializes in doping matters and who was German sports journalist of the year in 2007, was speaking on ARD’s Mittags Magazin programme. He claimed that they contacted UCI president Pat McQuaid yesterday and received a complete denial that Contador was being investigated.

“We have been on this case for weeks and we knew a few days ago,” he said during the television interview. “We tried to contact the UCI yesterday, but they said they won't give a comment. We then called Pat McQuaid. He said 'I don't even know what you are talking about'."Then later the press release came out. So the UCI was lying yesterday.”

The news that ARD was poised to break the story could explain why Contador’s press agent released the news hours before the Elite world championship time trial.

Seppelt felt that the governing body was deliberately stalling. “The UCI has had many problems with credibility in the last few years, like in the case of Lance Armstrong. [In Contador's case] the A and B sample were already taken, the procedure was done and still the public wasn't informed. It appears they want to keep this case under the covers or give Alberto Contador the opportunity to find arguments for his innocence. This should not happen. To me it appears to be a cartel from those who want to conceal.”

A more explosive claim relates to another matter. Contador held a press conference today and said that the most likely source for the Clenbuterol traces found in his urine sample was from a piece of tainted meat someone brought across the border from Spain.

ARD’s contention is that the traces could be in blood that was taken out of the rider during a non-competitive period, then reinfused back in around the time of the second rest day, when the urine sample in question was taken. The inference is that not enough care was taken to ensure that Contador was clear of the substance when the blood was taken out.

Even if this was checked in a laboratory, the Cologne lab used for analysing Tour samples has far more sensitive equipment when it comes to looking for substances such as Clenbuterol.

“ARD has obtained the exact values from Spain. This shows that it is not very likely that we are dealing with contaminated foods, especially in light of the fact that in Europe, it is highly unlikely that foods, such as meat, are contaminated with clenbuterol. It happens in Asian countries, but it is strictly prohibited in Europe. Also, there were no other positive test cases with contaminated meat, so the statement from Contador is not credible.

“There are other, very, very incriminating suspicious facts against Contador. Other values have appeared that are ten times over the higher value from so-called plasticizers [such as di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) – ed.] which are used in blood bags. These values were measured one day before the positive dope control. These blood bag softener values could indicate that autologous blood doping may have been performed.”

“The UCI completely kept this under the covers,” he continued. “They didn't say anything to this yesterday. Again the question about the credibility of the UCI comes up.” Seppelt didn’t reveal the source for his information about the plasticizer values, or explain why the urine sample that pinpointed this didn’t also show high levels of Clenbuterol.

Contador has provided supporting evidence from experts he has commissioned, and said that he is confident that he will be cleared. He argues that the levels concerned, 50 trillionths of a gram, are 400 time less than what antidoping laboratories accredited by WADA must be capable of detecting, and are so miniscule as to confer no possible benefit.

Despite this assertion, Seppelt argues that the rider will ultimately be both disqualified and suspended.

“If the other incriminating factors are added, if potential autologous blood doping was used and if it can be proved - which is currently strongly debated - then there is the question if Alberto Contador can keep his yellow jersey. I am pretty certain that just like Floyd Landis, the title will be taken away from him in the foreseeable future. It is not only the Tour winner who looks to stand in a shady light, but especially the UCI, which couldn't prove its credibility.”

When asked if it was a serious issue for cycling, he suggested that it could be wider than that. “You can ask the question if it is a cycling problem or a problem of organised sports,” he said. “I think the UCI has a problem and a president who lies. He clearly stated that there is no doping case, only to say the opposite the next day.”

Rasmus Damsgaard, who previously ran the internal anti-doping programme in the Astana team, has already suggested that the Clenbuterol traces might be linked to a transfusion of blood taken out earlier in the season.

“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.”

Germany has a history of being tough on doping matters. Contador is certain to dispute what ARD is claiming, but Seppelt’s claims add another dimension to the debate. They also indicate that the Tour winner may have a very tough fight on his hands.

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