Costa brothers reported as given permission to race, looking for teams
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Monday, February 7, 2011

Costa brothers reported as given permission to race, looking for teams

by Shane Stokes at 6:07 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Rui Costa draws parallels with Contador situation

Rui CostaThe season has already started but the Portuguese brothers Rui and Mario Costa are searching for new teams, having apparently been given a green light to return to racing. The duo tested positive for the substance methylhexaneamine at the national time trial championships last June, and faced a ban of up to a year.

The duo insisted that there was no deliberate attempt to dope, saying that the chemical was contained in a dietary supplement that they were using. Claims like these have been heard often before in positive cases, but their position was strengthened when WADA revised its anti-doping Code for 2011. It ruled that methylhexaneamine was now classified as a 'specified substance', and liable to lesser sanction if proven it was ingested accidentally.

The conundrum for the brothers were that they had tested positive in 2010, when it was still listed there as a more serious substance. With all this in mind, the Portuguese Cycling Federation proposed a ban of four months and fifteen days but, just before Christmas, the country’s national anti-doping agency (CNAD) rejected this.

“The CNAD does not agree with the proposed decision,” it said in a statement, “since Article 10.5.2 of the WADA Code sets that mitigation can not be more than half the sentence for the offence in question, which in this case is 2-8 years.”

Under this strict application of the rules, the brothers would be facing a year’s ban as at the time of their test, the substance was listed by WADA as prohibited. However, given the revision to its rules, it appears that the sanction has been laid aside.

According to the Velofutur website, the change was made as it was not proven that they had intended to cheat. Rui Costa, who competed with Caisse d’Eparnge in 2010, said that he wanted to “find a place in a big team.” He also drew parallels with the Alberto Contador case. “In some respects, things are similar,” he said. “Cycling needs men like him and I hope that he will return quickly, so justice is done and truth is known.”

However there is a key difference: Methylhexaneamine may have been removed from the list of banned products, but Clenbuterol is still there and still considered a performance enhancer. In the case of that substance, proving that it was consumed accidentally has almost always still resulted in a year’s ban.

Contador faces a fight to show that he didn’t deliberately take Clenbuterol. While the Costa brothers were able to show that the substance they used was indeed contaminated, Contador argues that the source of the chemical he is being sanctioned for was from contaminated meat. As there is no remainder from that sitting, he has to resort to more theoretical argument.

The Competition Committee of the Spanish federation RFEC is currently considering his case prior to passing its final ruling.


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