Alberto Contador has submitted a formal appeal against the one-year suspension issued by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC), claiming that he was not responsible or negligent, and insisting his positives test were caused by contaminated meat.
According to the La Vanguardia newspaper, traces of Clenbuterol were found in four of Contador’s urine samples during the final week of the Tour de France. However because of the close proximity of the samples, they are considered as one adverse analytical finding or positive test under UCI regulation clause 309.
Contador’s appeal insists that he should be judged under clause 296, which allows for suspension to be eliminated even in the case of a positive test, and not under rule 297 that only allows a 50 per cent reduction. Contador claims that the meat he ate on the second rest day of the Tour de France is the only plausible reason for his positive test for Clenbuterol. He claims he was not negligent by eating meat that is supposed to be carefully controlled by the European Union.
“With the documentation submitted and the two new items we've introduced there is hope that things will change,” Contador told Radio Nacional de España, according to the Marca newspaper.
“The rule says there must be responsibility and negligence of the athlete to apply a sanction. An athlete (Italy’s Alessandro Colo’) tested positive for Mexico, where Clenbuterol is used on cattle, but in the European Union passed the meat is controlled and its illegal to raise livestock with this substance. I couldn’t know that this meat was contaminated."
Article 296 of the UCI’s anti-doping regulations states that a ban can be eliminated “if the rider establishes… that he bears No Fault or Negligence,” although it is up to the rider to “establish how the Prohibited Substance entered his system in order to have the period of Ineligibility eliminated.”
Contador defence team denies that the traces of Clenbuterol could arise from blood doping, claiming that his UCI Biological Passport showed no signs of blood manipulation and that a huge quantity of blood would be needed to reach a level of 50 picgrammes/ml of Clenbuterol.
Contador has reiterated he will not retire even if his one-year ban is upheld by the Spanish Cycling Federation but promised he would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and to the Spanish civil courts.
When we get the final decision, we’ll see what happens, but for now I don’t plan to stop riding," he said.
The Spanish Cycling Federation is expected to make a final decision on the case in the next few days.