The Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing into Alberto Contador’s positive test for Clenbuterol gets under way in Lausanne on Monday, all of fourteen months after the Spaniard returned an adverse analytical finding for the substance at the 2010 Tour de France.
Contador was cleared of wrongdoing by his national federation (RFEC) in February, but both the UCI and WADA subsequently appealed to CAS against that decision. The case was first due to be heard in June, before the Tour de France, but the hearings were postponed, first until August and then until November.
The four parties involved in the hearing, the UCI, WADA, RFEC and Contador, will each be granted thirty minutes on Monday morning to present their principal arguments and formally list their witnesses.
According to CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb, 23 witnesses will be called to give evidence, including 13 nominated by Contador’s legal team, while Contador will also be heard. “The hearings will begin this Monday afternoon and will continue over the following two days,” Reeb told L’Équipe.
The morning of Thursday, November 24 will see the four parties present their closing statements, before the arbitration panel retires to deliberate, with a verdict not anticipated until early January.
Efraim Barak of Israel will preside over the arbitration panel, and he will be joined by Quentin Byrne-Sutton (nominated by the UCI and WADA) and Ulrich Haas (nominated by Contador and the RFEC).
Contador will be represented by British lawyer Mike Morgan and Gorka Villar, while Luis Sanz will represent the RFEC. Philippe Verbiest will be counsel for the UCI, with Jean-Pierre Morand representing WADA.
It is understood that Contador himself will take the stand on Tuesday, and the Spaniard is set to be present in court for most of the four days of the hearing. “He seems determined to follow the hearing very closely, even if he could absent himself at times,” Reeb said.
Biological passport crucial to case?
Since news of Contador’s positive test first broke in September 2010, he has claimed that the 50 picograms of Clenbuterol found in his urine were caused by eating contaminated meat on the evening of July 21, and his legal team will again present this defence in Lausanne.
Given the small quantity of Clenbuterol present in Contador’s urine on July 21, and the fact that a test returned on July 20 was negative, it is understood that WADA will attempt to show that the positive test was caused by a blood transfusion and that the rider had used Clenbuterol at an earlier point in the season.
It had earlier been anticipated that the so-called “plasticizer” test, in which residues of the plastic used in blood bags are detected in urine, would form part of the case against Contador. However, according to L’Équipe, there were already traces of plasticizer present in Contador’s sample of July 20, the day before his positive test for Clenbuterol.
WADA and UCI will instead focus on Contador’s biological passport data before and during the 2010 Tour de France, with Michael Ashenden among those to have analysed the rider’s blood values. L’Équipe reports that particular attention will be paid to Contador’s haemoglobin level in May 2010. The French newspaper claims that it rose to 17.9g/l in May 2010, a spike from its usual level of between 16 to 16.5g/l.