The Spanish cycling federation has cleared Alberto Contador of charges of doping with clenbuterol. The news was communicated to his lawyer this afternoon in Madrid and a statement later released by Contador’s press office.

Contador is expected to give his full reaction to the news in an interview on Spanish television later this evening.

The Spaniard faced up to a two-year ban for doping over his positive for clenbuterol in the Tour 2010, but it would appear that the Spanish Cycling Federation [SCF] has been swayed by his lawyers arguments that he did not intentionally dope.

Contador is now free to race, and it is widely believed that he will be a starter for the Saxo Bank squad in the Tour of the Algarve, in Portugal, on Wednesday. He has already won the race twice, including last year.

The SCF has reacted angrily to suggestions that its decision has been influenced by the large numbers of Spanish politicians, including president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who lined up recently to claim that there was no legal reason for Contador not to be cleared.

In an official release, the SCF has denied that it has been affected by any outside pressure , and indeed – prior to the decision being published – UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani praised the quality of their work in the Contador case. Afterwards, though, the UCI has merely limited itself to saying it will study the decision, whilst observing the discrepancies between the yearlong proposed sentence and what has finally happened.

What then is going to happen? The chances of the case ending up in the Court of Arbitration for Sport are high. WADA have yet to react, because although key official at some of their anti-doping labs have said a threshold on certain products like clenbuterol – a key question in the Contador case – could be necessary, others appear to disagree completely.

And for the SCF there is no getting away from the fact that for the last ten days ago they were planning to give Contador a one-year sentence, which, had the federation actually been able to stop its officials from leaking information for once, should never have been made public. That one-year sentence would have been partly in line with anti-doping legislation, which states clearly that all athletes are responsible for all banned substances in their body, unless they can prove it was unintentional. Given Contador had eaten the meat he said had caused the positive, not an easy thing to do.

However, in the Contador case it has backtracked completely, faced, so it is said, with new evidence. The principal shift in the SCF’s stance has come about, apparently, thanks to WADA deciding it would not challenge the German Table Tennis Federation’s decision to clear Dimitrij Ovtcharov after he tested positive for clenbuterol allegedly as a result of contaminated meat.

Curiously enough, Ovtcharov was backed in his claims of innocence by the director of the same Cologne laboratory who found Contador’s traces of clenbuterol.

There is one key difference, of course, which is that Ovtcharov tested positive after eating meat in China, where clenbuterol use is widespread. Even WADA’s deputy director of their lab there has recognised that.

But how widespread is clenbuterol use in Europe, where it is banned? Contador’s lawyers say that the testing procedures in the Basque Country at the very least are woefully inadequate, and they’ve produced scientific research to back up their case. Others, though, disagree.

Whatever the truth, the case – highly controversial, extremely complex and more than a shade tedious – rumbles on. It has taken a hugely unexpected turn. Contador for now remains Tour 2010 winner and is free to race.

But ultimately regardless of the SCF there is still only one final verdict that will matter: at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The next question is: will the UCI and WADA actually appeal?

Related links

Spanish media claims Contador could avoid ban

Contador could use ‘Gasquet’s Kiss’ theory to back case

Contador says he will fight on despite provisional ban

UCI awaits final Spanish decision in Contador case

  • Andy

    No great surprise. There is of course the question regarding the FACT that traces of PLASTIC(S ) were found in the same sample of blood which was found to have tested positively for clenbuterol and what does this imply!? The answer would be an alleged blood transfusion!!!!!! The whole case needs to be dealt with at WORLD LEVEL rather than at a ‘National Level’ who are of course gonna back their riders to the hilt…..UCI / WADA etc get your act together!!!!!

  • The Bolton Bullet

    Maybe all the other teams at the tour de algarve or wherever Albuterol Clemtador turns up next should refuse to race against him… Yeah like they’re gonna do that aren’t they. Not known as a ‘The Herd’ for nothing. The whole thing is a joke and what is especially sad is that we all expected the Spanish federation to do exactly what it did.. Really p**s me off these so called stars. I love riding my road bike . I don’t get much chance to get out on it due to commitments but like I’ve just been out today for my first big ride in six weeks and at the moment feel like I’ve been pulled thru a mangle backwards but I loved every minute of it, would never ever consider drugs as an option, and I know I’d never get the chances fellas like contador. Basically they just take the p==s and come up smiling , all be it rather shiftily. Just hope it turns out he’s got mad cow disease and he has to be culled!! Utter disgrace- both the decision and the ‘man’

  • Morgan Rees

    Remember this is SPANISH cycling – who have turned the blind eye to doping. Happily, other countries adopt a more rigourous policing.

  • richard evans

    Quite disgraceful! Cycling will soon have the sporting credibility of American Wrestling! Spain must be a great place to have a team hq, the weather is better than France and there are far less interruptions.

  • bill coombes

    Ho hum…as the toto turns

  • Niall

    please let’s not beat up our sport more than we should. Yes, it’s had more than its fair share of drug cheats, and yes, maybe the governing bodies haven’t handled it as well as they should. But at least people are getting caught. There are plenty of sports where the testing looks abysmal. Are there really only half as many drug cheats globally in football as in cycling?? Only 10 boxers have tested positive? 11 rugby union players? 4 bodybuilders?! And where are the downhill skiers? Athletics looks the best tested to me.
    Here’s an analysis from wikipedia’s I’m sure there are a few other sports “missing” from this list.
    Note list includes admissions as well as positive tests and also recreational drugs.

    Sport Count
    Athletics 463
    Cycling 110
    Football (soccer) 56
    Weightlifting 48
    Baseball 46
    Swimming 40
    mixed martial arts 30
    Cross-country skiing 19
    Tennis 18
    Ice hockey 12
    American football 11
    Rugby union 11
    Boxing 10
    Basketball 8
    Wrestling 8
    Auto racing 7
    Biathlon 7
    Water polo 7
    Cricket 6
    Gymnastics 6
    Rowing 5
    Rugby League 5
    Bodybuilding 4
    Bobsleigh 3
    Judo 3
    Ski jumping 3
    Speed skating 3
    Triathlon 3
    Australian rules football 2
    Modern pentathlon 2
    Motorcycle racing 2
    Powerlifting 2
    Rhythmic gymnastics 2
    Shooting 2
    Sumo wrestling 2
    Ten-pin bowling 2
    Canoe sprint 1
    Curling 1
    Diving 1
    Equestrian 1
    Fencing 1
    Golf 1
    Greco-Roman wrestling 1
    Handball 1
    Horse racing 1
    Kayaking 1
    Mountain biking 1
    Nordic combined 1
    Professional Basketball 1
    Rugby 1
    Rugby (NRL) 1
    Skeleton 1
    Snooker 1
    Snowboarding 1
    Sport wrestling 1
    Squash 1
    Surfing 1

  • Richard Illingworth

    Just when I thought the sport was serious about dealing with doping cheats we get this. What a kick in the teeth for all those who are clean (if any).

  • borderfox

    well suprise suprise did we really think that the spainish cycling fed would ban their biggest star just look at how they delt with valverdia n operation peurto maybe we could all win grand tours if we followed albertos preperation

  • Katie

    AND WE ARE SURPRISED !! just proves that if you are “a name” and Spanish you can beat the system.

    What happened to the athlete being responsible for what he eats or drinks as per the UCI rules – A TOTAL FARCE AND WASTE OF MONEY. it was clear from the outset he would get away with it.

    Can’t write any more as I’m off out training via my friendly butcher who has some dodgy imported meat