Alberto Contador was due to take the stand on Wednesday afternoon as the Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing into his positive test for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France continued in Lausanne.
His erstwhile Astana teammate Paolo Tiralongo was among the witnesses who appeared before the hearing on Wednesday morning, which is taking place in the on the top floor of International Olympic Committee headquarters. Speaking downstairs, Tiralongo confirmed to Cyclingnews that he had addressed the hearing, but he declined to comment further on the nature of his evidence.
Benjamin Noval, who followed Contador from Astana to Saxo Bank at the end of 2010, was also in Lausanne on Wednesday morning. Like Tiralongo, he was called as a witness by Contador’s legal team.
While the experts and witnesses involved in the hearing have remained resolutely tight-lipped on the proceedings inside the Salle Pierre de Coubertin when approached by the small group of journalists waiting outside, some details of events have been pieced together.
Gazzetta dello Sport reports that American psychologist Louis Rovner gave evidence before the hearing on behalf of Contador Tuesday. According to the Italian newspaper, Rovner carried out a polygraph test on Contador during a trip to the United States last spring, in which he denied having undergone a transfusion, and a video of the interrogation may even have been played before the hearing.
Meanwhile, as L’Équipe noted on the eve of the hearing, WADA’s case against Contador is now believed to be centred on data from his biological passport as it explores the possibility that the traces of Clenbuterol in his system were explicable by the infusion of blood plasma on the morning of July 21.
After speaking at the hearing on Wednesday, Contador is also expected to be on hand for the closing arguments, currently scheduled for Thursday morning. With a final verdict not due until January at the earliest, however, the long-running saga will continue in suspended animation at least into the new year, almost eighteen months after the fateful positive test.
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Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.