Italian rider Alessandro Colò has been given a one-year ban for accidentally consuming Clenbuterol from contaminated meat and believes Alberto Contador's positive for the same drug could be have caused by the beef he ate during the Tour de France.
Colò tested positive at the Tour of Mexico in late April while riding for the ISD-Neri team. He hired a biological expert who used official data from Mexico to prove that 18% of meat consumed in the Latin American country is contaminated by Clenbuterol.
The Italian Olympic Committee's disciplinary panel believed him but because the WADA code deems that athletes are ultimately responsible for what they eat and drink, his ban can only been reduced by half, from two years to one.
If the same rules applied in the Contador case, the Spaniard also faces a minimum one-year ban and would lose his Tour de France victory.
"I hired a lawyer and a biologist to investigate my case. They couldn't go back and find the meat I'd eaten months earlier but they discovered official data that showed 18% of all the meat in Mexico is treated with Clenbuterol," Colò told Cyclingnews.
"The judges believed me but I've still been given a one-year ban because the rules only allow a 50% cut in suspensions. I don't think that is fair. If they believed me that I didn’t take Clenbuterol they should have cleared me completely."
Colò believes Contador
Colò admits his professional career is almost certainly over and he fears that Contador may also struggle to clear his name and avoid a ban.
He has read the recent accusations alleged by a member of the Astana team but suggests Contador would not have purposefully taken Clenbuterol in June because it can be detected in anti-doping tests.
"If it hadn't happened to me, I wouldn't have believed Contador but now I do," Colò told Cyclingnews.
"After studying my own case, I know the possibility of eating meat contaminated with Clenbuterol is very small but it is possible because farmers always want to boost animal growth."
"I don’t think Contador would risk taking Clenbuterol. Before I tested positive didn't know that Clenbuterol even existed. Now I know it stays in your body for two or three days and can show up in some riders and not in others. That means Contador would have been crazy to take it in June. He would have known he could have been tested at any moment in the weeks before the Tour and so I don't think he'd be that stupid. However like me he is facing a one-year ban."