CAS sanction Contador with two year ban

By Cyclingnews.com | Monday, February 6, 2012 11.02am

This article originally appeared on Cyclingnews.com.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has ruled that Alberto Contador should face a two year sanction for his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France. After a long-running saga, CAS announced on Monday that it had upheld the UCI and WADA’s joint appeal against the Spanish Cycling Federation’s (RFEC) decision not to suspend Contador.

In its ruling (full arbitral award here), CAS pointed out that it wasn't disputed that Contador had tested positive for clenbuterol, and that in order to avoid a sanction he had to prove how the substance entered his body and that it wasn't intentional. Contador chose to argue that it was due to contaminated meat, whereas the UCI and WADA alleged that it was either due to a blood transfusion or a contaminated food supplement.

CAS ruled against Contador's explanation, and that was enough to hand him a two year ban: "The Panel concluded that both the meat contamination scenario and the blood transfusion scenario were, in theory, possible explanations for the adverse analytical findings, but were however equally unlikely. In the Panel’s opinion, on the basis of the evidence adduced, the presence of clenbuterol was more likely caused by the ingestion of a contaminated food supplement.

"Therefore, and considering that none of the conditions for eliminating or reducing the period of ineligibility were met, on the basis of the UCI Anti-Doping Regulations, the Panel decided to sanction Alberto Contador with a two-year period of ineligibility."

The ban means Contador will lose all results dating back to and including the 2010 Tour de France. Andy Schleck will become the Tour de France champion and Michele Scarponi is crowned winner of the Giro d'Italia.

Contador's ban ends on August 5th, meaning he can ride this year's Vuelta.

A long-running saga

Contador’s positive test dates from July 21, 2010, although the case was not made public until September 30 of that year. In February 2011, the RFEC officially cleared Contador, accepting his explanation that the traces of clenbuterol in his sample had been caused by consuming contaminated meat.

In March, both the UCI and WADA formally announced their decision to appeal the matter to CAS, who in turn announced that a ruling would be made ahead of the Tour de France.

That turned out to be a false dawn, however, and after a number of delays, the hearings were finally held in November 2011. In the intervening period, Contador had added to the Giro d’Italia to his palmares and finished fifth at the Tour de France.

The hearing itself was tinged with some degree of controversy, with AP reporting that WADA’s lawyers threatened a walk out when anti-doping expert Michael Asheden was not permitted to testify on the theory that Contador may have had a blood transfusion on July 20.

A verdict was initially due in mid-January, but was again delayed after Leopard Trek backer Flavio Becca questioned the integrity of CAS arbitration panel head Ephraim Barak. After confirming that none of the parties involved in the case wanted to change the make-up of the arbitration panel, CAS finally issued its verdict on Monday.

Contador still has the option of appealing the CAS ruling to the Swiss federal court within the next 30 days, although any such petition can only concern procedural matters.

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