Did UCI action inadvertently contribute to Contador’s expected clearing of doping charges?
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Did UCI action inadvertently contribute to Contador’s expected clearing of doping charges?

by VeloNation Press at 7:21 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
 
L’Equipe suggests rider may have fought suspension on a technicality

alberto ContadorWith El Pais and other sectors of the Spanish media confirming this morning that Alberto Contador will be officially cleared today by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC), the reasons for that clearing are being pondered. According to L’Equipe, one factor which may have led to the RFEC’s Competition Committee dropping the charges against him was what is being termed a procedural defect on the part of the UCI.

The French newspaper states that a letter sent by the UCI to the RFEC last November 8th was not sent to the rider or his legal team. L’Equipe said that Contador’s representatives complained that this was not fair, and that it violated a section of the Spanish Constitution regarding the ‘rights of the accused to be informed.’

The letter apparently listed four possible reasons for the rider’s positive test for Clenbuterol during the last Tour de France.

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani declined to comment on the Contador case yesterday, telling VeloNation that the UCI couldn’t give a reaction until such time as the news of his clearing was confirmed by the RFEC.

However according to the New York Times, Carpani said that if the rider was indeed given the green light by the Spanish federation to return to competition, that there was a strong chance that he would ride the 2011 Tour de France.

Even if the UCI and WADA appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Carpani said that the fact that such processes take an average of four months could mean that it would not be concluded by the start of the Tour. Much would depend on how quickly an appeal is lodged, if one is indeed to be made. The Tour de France begins on July 2nd, approximately four and a half months from today.

CAS has confirmed to VeloNation in the past that expediated rulings are possible; it remains to be seen if this could happen in the case of a UCI/WADA appeal. It would be a difficult situation for cycling if question marks about the case still remain during this year’s Tour de France.

In recent days several Spanish politicians pre-empted the RFEC ruling by saying that Contador should be cleared. Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said on the Spanish government’s Twitter page that “there’s no legal reason to justify sanctioning Contador.”

According to USADA’s chief executive Travis Tygart, the complete clearing of Contador would be a very unusual situation.

“It’s a very, very unique set of facts that would justify someone being completely cleared, so unique that we haven’t seen it at all, at least here in the United States,” said Tygart to the New York Times. He said that he didn’t know the details of the decision, but said that he’d be concerned that the RFEC could propose a year ban in January, then completely change its mind. “If there’s truly been a flip-flop, as reported, it appears to be a classic example of the fox protecting the henhouse. It would look like they are protecting a national hero.”

For his part, Contador claims that he has never doped and shouldn’t be punished for eating contaminated meat. He claims that beef was the source of the Clenbuterol that was in his system, that he had no way of knowing there were trace amounts in it, and that the levels were too small to derive a performance benefit.

The RFEC decision is expected to be confirmed in the next few hours, and the reasons given then. VeloNation will continue to cover this story as it develops.

Contador is tipped as a likely participant in the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal, which begins tomorrow. He won the race last year.

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