Contador positive for Clenbuterol in four different tests
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Contador positive for Clenbuterol in four different tests

by Shane Stokes at 6:37 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
Further details emerge of case put by both sides

Alberto ContadorPreviously reported as positive on two days, the Spanish media has reported that Alberto Contador’s samples showed traces of Clenbuterol on four different occasions, spread over five days.

According to both La Vanguardia and Marca, he was negative for the substance in tests on July 5,12, 19 and 20. However on Wednesday July 21, the second rest day of the Tour, his samples showed the presence of Clenbuterol at 50 picograms per millilitre. This dropped to16 picograms the following day, decreased further to 7 picograms/ml two days later (July 24) and then increased again to 17 picograms/ml on July 25th.

Jesús Munoz Guerra, director of the Laboratory of Madrid, told Marca that “a rebound in concentration of Clenbuterol from 7 to 17 picograms is more likely an error in estimation of the concentration rather than a second microdose.” The reference to a microdose presumably refers to the hypothesis that the Clenbuterol could have entered his system via a blood transfusion.

It is uncertain as to whether the spread of Clenbuterol positives over five days will help or hinder his argument that food was the source. The substance is likely to take several days to clear the system.

Contador has insisted that steak bought in Irun by friend and race organizer Jose Luis Lopez Cerrón was the culprit. La Vanguardia reports details from the investigations done by both sides in preparing the prosecution and defence cases.

It says that WADA commissioned a private investigator to look into the origin of the meat from the abbatoir: his conclusion was that it came from Spain rather than elsewhere.

In addition, WADA stated that to produce 50 pg in urine, the contamination level in the meat should be at least three times the detection level in the European Union. WADA concluded that in order to achieve this level, it would have been necessary to have eaten meat which had been killed very soon after the last dosing of the animal with Clenbuterol.

Finally, the reports from WADA forwarded to the RFEC by the UCI point out that of 286,748 tests carried out on meat in Europe in 2008, just one Italian case was confirmed as positive for Clenbuterol.

In response, Contador’s legal team claims that in order to satisfy the requirements of reliable statistics, that 8,586 tests should have been carried out in the Basque Country. Instead, 100 were done.

The competition committee of the RFEC assessing the case has concluded that it is absolutely impossible for Contador to demonstrate the contamination of the meat, given that he ate it.

The question has also been posed as to why Contador’s legal team has not lodged a complaint against those who allegedly contaminated and shipped tainted meat.

Case for defence:

In relation to the transfusion hypothesis, Marca reports that Contador’s legal team has sought to show that his bio-passport values during the Tour were completely normal and thus rule out the suggestion that he could have received blood.

He is basing his defence on part on Articles 296 and 297 of the UCI’s anti-doping rules. While there is no permissible level for Clenbuterol, he is arguing that he was not negligent in eating meat, especially as the substance is supposedly absent from meat in Europ.

Article 296 states that a sanction can be avoided if the rider “establishes… that he bears No Fault or Negligence.” However the rider must show how the prohibited substance entered his system.

In the absence of proof as to the source of contamination – which the RFEC competition committee has noted that Contador has eaten – his defence may depend instead on Article 297. This refers to the situation where a rider shows that he has “No Significant Fault or Negligence,” which should be easier to show. However in this case the ban would be reduced by half, which equals the one year ban already proposed by the RFEC.

Contador has vowed to fight to the end in terms of battling any suspension. “Why should I accept a one-year suspension, since I did nothing?” he asked during an interview on Spanish national radio.

“An athlete tested positive in Mexico, where clenbuterol is used in cattle, but in the European Union meat goes through more controls and it's illegal to fatten cattle using this substance. I could never expect that meat to be contaminated,” Contador argued.

He said that he and his legal team had presented new evidence and were hopeful that they would be successful. "With the documents presented and the two new points we've introduced there's hope this (decision) changes,” he said. “The rule says the athlete must show responsibility and negligence for a sanction to be applied.”

They have submitted a further 35 pages to the 90 previously presented. A final decision from the RFEC is expected this week. Both sides have the right to appeal.


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