Three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has been found guilty of ingesting the banned substance clenbuterol and suspended from competition for two years by The Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Contador was stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title, and of all his race results since Jan. 25, 2011, including his win in the 2011 Giro d’Italia.
The Spanish cyclist failed a drug test after Stage 16 of the 2010 Tour de France, showing positive for clenbuterol, a chemical sometimes given illegally to livestock to increase lean muscle mass. Contador claimed he was exposed to the substance through eating contaminated meat.
The Spanish cycling agency RFEC initially suggested that Contador be suspended for one year starting Jan. 25, 2011, but the cyclist refused and instead appealed to the CAS. After repeated delays the CAS hearing took place in November; the three-judge panel spent the next two months digesting 4000 pages of testimony before rendering its decision.
The CAS panel deemed it unlikely that Contador ate tainted meat as there had been no reports of clenbuterol-contaminated meat in Spain, and no other cyclists tested positive.
The panel ruled that Contador most probably ingested a contaminated food supplement. The initial suspicion was that the clenbuterol could have come from a plastic blood plasma bag; cyclists sometimes get transfusions of doped blood and plasma to thin the doped blood. The panel decided that there was no evidence of transfusions.
The CAS panel, composed of Mr. Efraim Barak of Israel (President), Mr. Quentin Byrne-Sutton of Switzerland, and Prof. Ulrich Haas of Germany, ruled that the suspension was deemed to have started on Jan. 25, and that the 5 months, 19 days after the initial test in 2010 would also count towards the suspension. Therefore, the 29-year-old cyclist could be back racing a bike as soon as Aug. 6, 2012.
The panel will rule at a later date about a UCI request to impose a fine of at least € 2,485,000 on the suspended cyclist.