Alberto Contador's lawyer has explained that the Spaniard escaped a doping ban for Clenbuterol because he was unaware he ingested the substance, via a piece of filet mignon, during the 2010 Tour de France.
Article 296 of the UCI's anti-doping regulations says that an athlete can be exonerated if they prove that they had inadvertently ingested a banned product through no fault or negligence on their part and Contador's lawyer, Andy Ramos, has told The Independent that this proved to be the catalyst for the Spaniard's acquittal.
"The [anti-doping] legislation states that a rider is responsible for any banned substance in his body," he said. "But there's a clause that frees him of that responsibility if he can demonstrate there was no intentional negligence. We proved that, and that was the key to his defence. From day one his defence was based around that clause."
Another key piece of evidence which helped to clear Contador was the small amount of Spanish cattle which are tested for Clenbuterol.
"We showed that the testing for Clenbuterol in cattle is not infallible in Europe," Ramos continued. "There is a European Union norm – 96/23/CE, dating from 1996 – which states that only 0.25 per cent of cattle should be tested for Clenbuterol. So 99.75 per cent are not."
Ramos also revealed that Basque authorities traced the supplier of the offending piece of beef back to three possible sources. The meat in question was bought by Spanish cycling organiser, Jose Luis Lopez Cerron, a friend of the Astana team chef who had complained of poor quality meat at the hotel where the team was staying on July 20.
"Curiously enough, the owner of the [supplier] one that was most likely to be it is in partnership with [the supplier's] his brother, who was penalised a few years back for using Clenbuterol," he said.
The UCI and WADA are yet to announce if they will appeal the decision.
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