NPR logo International Cycling Union Appeals Spain's Decision On Contador


International Cycling Union Appeals Spain's Decision On Contador

Alberto Contador, the three-time winner of the Tour de France, will have to defend himself once again. Contador tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France, but said he ingested the substance by eating tainted beef.

Alberto Contador of Spain looks on before the first stage of the Volta of Catalunya in Lloret de Mar, Spain, March 21, 2011. Associated Press hide caption

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Associated Press

The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) bought his story and cleared Contador to race again. At the time, as NPR's Tom Goldman wrote in February, RFEC's decision was seen as Spain protecting a national hero.

But, just before the deadline expired today, the International Cycling Union announced it would appeal the RFEC's decision, reviving the doping case against Contador.

CBS News reports that the UCI decided to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after reviewing RFEC's paperwork. Here's how CBS describes the matters at issue in the case:

The World Anti-Doping Agency regards clenbuterol, which burns fat and builds muscle, as a zero-tolerance drug. However, its rules allow athletes to escape a sanction if they prove "no fault or negligence" on their part.

This is where the spiked steak excuse becomes slippery: It is technically legal to ingest clenbuterol as long as it's not "negligent." So the question may be not whether Contador chowed down tainted beef but how much of the anabolic agent did he ingest and was it his "fault."

It should be noted that when American Floyd Landis tested positive for testosterone after winning the 2006 tour, he had an excuse too: his body had super powers that made his testosterone levels go through the roof.

The AFP reports that a UCI spokesman quickly said its investigation is "not to wage war against Contador. It is to make sure that the final decision concerning Contador is taken by a completely independent body whose credibility has never been questioned."