Alberto Contador’s lawyer has explained how the Tour winner was able to escape any bans for doping – although possible appeals are still pending – despite clenbuterol, a banned substance, being found in his system last July after he ate a beefsteak he says was contaminated with the drug.

In an interview with the Independent newspaper, Andy Ramos points out that the initial year ban “was no more than a prosecutor’s proposal.”, rather than a definitive verdict.

“it was wrongly thought that a year’s ban was an actual sentence, and that the Spanish cycling federation was then influenced by political pressure in Spain [to reduce it]. But that proposal was not legally binding.”

Ramos then lists the indirect evidence that he says helped clear Contador including the extremely low level of clenbuterol testing amongst cattle in Europe, citing a European regulation.

“We showed that the testing for clenbuterol [in livestock] is not infallible in Europe,” Ramos told The Independent.

“There is a European Union norm – 96/23/CE, dating from 1996 – which states that only 0.25 per cent of cattle should be tested for clenbuterol. So 99.75 per cent are not.”

“During the very same period the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture says that there have been no positives for clenbuterol in [Spanish] cattle. But we’ve shown that the police have gone on arresting people for using clenbuterol and other banned substances in their livestock.”

As for the source of the beef itself, “The Basque Government gave us three possibilities [of different cattle], and curiously enough, the owner of the one that was most likely to be it is in partnership with his brother, who was penalised a few years back for using clenbuterol.”

The article speculates too, that the Contador verdict – if it stands – could renew the pressure on the authorities to establish athletes’ guilt in the case of positives, rather than the athletes having to prove their innocence if they believe they are wrongly accused, as can currently happen.

Related links

Contador: “I have never cheated”

Contador now cleared of clenbuterol charges

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

  • Sarah

    I really hope that this is sorted out and he is banned. HE and he alone is responsible for what is found drug-wise in his body. Is there any proof he actually ATE the meat anyway? End of the day, he had drugs in his system. He is a cheat and should be treated accordingly.

  • Michael Mace

    Dear Sirs,
    Your commenters are not being fair. I have read all the published correspondance of this case and I definatley give Contador the ‘benafit of the doubt.’
    If the man has been stupid enough to take drugs he has had a warning and if he has a few more brains cells than the average football fan (50, OK it’s a joke), he has had a close shave and will realise that he must never take them again.

  • jeff thorley

    if he was found tohave a banned substance inside he should be automatically banned!! No questions asked

    Jeff Thorley

  • Jon

    All you have to do is forget about the plasticisers, draw no conclusions from the Operation Puerto connection and hey presto – he’s clean folks! Nothing to see here. Hooray for honest Alberto and his clever lawyers.

  • Bert

    No one else gets off. Doping is wrong!!! He should be BAN!!!

  • Gethin

    But surely the whole issue of a rider being responsible for what is in their system is being ignored. Regardless of whether his lawyers have persuaded the authorities that there might be a chance Spanish farmers are using clenbutarol on their cattle, this is not the issue that should decide the ban dished out to Contador. He was found with illegal substances in his system which might have given him an unfair advantage. He was responsible for the foodstuff that he consumed and should be banned for at least a year due to this. It would set a very dangerous president if he gets away with this.

  • Julian

    I don’t pretend to know anything more than any other fan about this doping case but this ruling could have consequences.

    First, other riders with Clen in their system, no matter how small an amount, could claim that it came from a beef animal in the 99.75% group that is untested. A ‘get-out-of-gaol-free’ card.

    Second, I understood the rule to be no Clen in the cyclists blood sample, irrestpective of it’s measured amount or possible source. If that’s the rule then it’s the rule. Period. ‘If’s and ‘but’s grey the line and smear the rule, making enforcement impossible.

    Third, which organisation is leading on doping control? National or International? Natural justice demands an appeals process but before that stage there needs to be a single pseudo-court to hear and adjudicate the evidence. The UCI seems an obvious body to do this.

    Let’s have strict anti-doping rules and stick to them for all cyclists, no matter who they are or how well respected they are. And if that means managing food supplies better and not busing beef across a border so be it.

  • lucas

    The whole thing stinks.
    Opens the door for any cheat to get off.
    How come there is one rule for the top guys and another for the rest.
    No one eats steak before the hardest stage of the Tour, so even that lame excuse, that he had a month to come up with, is ridiculous.
    I am officially sick of the cheats in pro cycling and have now decided to cancel my Sky subscription and watch syncronised swimming instead.

  • Jimmy Won

    I hope this is not the end of the matter – further tests will show the presence of plasticisers in Contador’s sample – I suppose then we shall have some lawyer showing that a percentage of cows have had recent blood transfusions – cycling has become a laughing stock, again, and we just sit back and take it. UCI and WADA must lead from the front – do nothing and the sport goes down the toilet. Contador must be banned.