Alberto Contador says UCI told him not to tell anyone about positive test for Clenbuterol
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Saturday, October 02, 2010

Alberto Contador says UCI told him not to tell anyone about positive test for Clenbuterol

by Conal Andrews at 6:05 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
 
Spaniard explains why Riis was not informed for over a month

Alberto ContadorTriple Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has outlined the reason why he did not tell Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis about his positive test for Clenbuterol, claiming that it was cycling’s world governing body itself which told him not to talk to anybody.

“The UCI has always asked me not to tell this to anyone,” Contador told TV2 Sport. “[The reason was] so it could be resolved in the best way. For it was not a positive event, but a very detailed matter that requires very detailed analysis.”

On Wednesday, the Spanish rider was announced as having tested positive for minute quantities of the substance. Clenbuterol is a non-steroidal β2 adrenergic agonist, which aids breathing and is considered a stimulant with some androgenic (strength-building) properties.

The amount in question is 50 picograms, 50 trillionths of a gram, which is 40 times less than what anti-doping laboratories accredited by WADA must be able to detect.

The substance is banned at any level, but Contador is referring to the tiny quantities as supporting evidence for his claims that the case is one of food contamination.

Whatever the reason, Riis was not happy about being kept in the dark. He only found out on Wednesday, September 29th, which was over a month after the August 24th date on which Contador heard the news. “I have wondered…” he told Berlingske Tidende, when asked why there was such a long delay.

Alberto Contador Pat McQuaidAccording to Contador’s version of events, the reason there was such a delay was because the UCI had told the Tour winner to say precisely nothing. “It seemed that everything was in order and that it would be resolved internally,” he explained. “Because of the confidentiality which the UCI has asked me to show and which I have lived up to, I have not said anything to Riis.

“Several times I thought about saying it to my parents. And in the same way I'd like to say it to Riis. All the time I considered whether it was best to say it or not. So I decided to keep quiet.”

In August, Riis had signed Contador for the next two seasons. The problem now is that it is very late in the season, the Saxo Bank sponsors have heard and read the news all over the media and, if Contador is suspended, could in theory question their involvement was the team will be left without a proven Grand Tour winner next year.

The sponsorship continued into 2011 because the Tour champion was coming to the team. If that doesn’t happen, questions may be asked by Saxo Bank.

There is also a problem for the UCI, in that its instructions to Contador to keep the issue quiet will leave it open to claims that it was primarily trying to protect both the rider and cycling’s image. However, if it informed WADA after the positive test result was received, that would seem to rule out any allegations that it was trying to sweep it under the carpet.

The German TV station ARD has said that the governing body flatly denied that the Spaniard had tested positive. “We have been on this case for weeks and we knew a few days ago,” Hans Joachim Seppelt said during a television interview on the Mittags Magazin programme. “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.”

The likelihood that ARD was going to break the story is interpreted as the reason why Contador’s spokesman released the news on Wednesday, just hours before the Elite time trial. The UCI later followed that up with its own press release.

It maintains that the news would have been released at some point. Yet Riis is likely to be very frustrated by the delay. “The problem is simply that we don’t know when the case will be settled,” he told Feltet.dk.

Fellow Dane Brian Holm, who works with the HTC Columbia team, also can’t understand why it took the Team Saxo Bank owner so long to be informed. “He signed a contract with Riis in early August and was told about the positive test three weeks later,” he told Ekstra Bladet. “But he said nothing to his new employer, who was starting to build the team around him. That is certainly not how to play with open cards. The least one could expect is that he would tell Riis that he had tested positive.”

The UCI has said that it wants to reach a decision as soon as possible, accepting that further delays after the news has been released would be counter-productive.

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