Tour Winner Contador Tests Positive, Suspended

Alberto Contador, the 2010 Tour de France winner, tested positive for a banned drug and has been suspended by cycling's governing body. The case is still being investigated.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

The winner of the Tour de France has been suspended after failing a drug test. Alberto Contador tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing drug. We're going to talk about this with reporter Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.

And, Eleanor, what's the drug?

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Well, the drug is called clenbuterol. And they found just very small traces of it in a urine sample of Alberto Contador's.

INSKEEP: And this is something that improves your performance in some way?

BEARDSLEY: Well, this is - it builds muscle and you can lose weight with it. And they've been talking about it on TV. Sometimes it's given as a food supplement to cattle...

INSKEEP: OK. So...

BEARDSLEY: ...to give them more muscles.

INSKEEP: Well, now what does Alberto Contador, the winner of the Tour de France, say about this positive drug test?

BEARDSLEY: Well, I just watched him. He gave a press conference from his native town in Spain - Pinto. And he says it was absolutely accidentally ingested. He says he's taken no substances at all. He says, in his words it was pico dose. And they are calling it a micro dose - teeny, teeny trace of it found. And he even gives the details.

He said he met with a Spanish official the night before he was tested who had brought good Spanish meat up to France for him to eat. And he is convinced that there were traces of it in that meat. And he says, you know, I was tested days before, days after and no trace was ever found except for that day. It must be coming from the meat.

INSKEEP: Apparently people are not entirely sure of this explanation, since he has been suspended from cycling for the moment.

BEARDSLEY: That's right. Provisionally suspended, and more tests have been ordered by the International Cycling Union. But there's not a huge, like, accusatory thing of, oh, he doped. People are being very cautious about it.

And actually, the Tour de France had a muted reaction. They said let's wait for the final test. I mean, so far he's never been caught for doping and no one is calling him a doper yet. So we're waiting to see what happens.

INSKEEP: This means no one is talking yet about, for example, taking away his Tour de France title at this point?

BEARDSLEY: No, not at all. No one is going back to thinking about what happened in 2006 when Floyd Landis was stripped of his title. But we're not we're getting, you know, visions of that, but no one's talking about it yet. No.

INSKEEP: Nevertheless, it's got to be another blow for the cycling world at the moment.

BEARDSLEY: It is. But it's more like people are feeling, here we go again. Because this summer I followed the tour. There was no talk of doping. And then, boom, this morning it's all over the news. So here we go again. But everyone is still waiting to see what happens.

INSKEEP: OK. Thanks very much. That's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley in Paris.

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