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Key error in CAS report on Contador

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Alberto Contador enters a press conference on February 7, 2012.

Alberto Contador enters a press conference on February 7, 2012. (Image credit: AFP)
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Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank)

Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has admitted that it made a crucial mistake within its 98-page report on the Alberto Contador clenbuterol case. Article 16 of the report states that “a blood sample taken on the morning of 20 July 2010 contained clenbuterol in a concentration of 1 picogram.”

However, that blood test, taken during the Tour’s second rest day in the Pyrenees and the night after Contador and some of his team-mates had eaten the soon-to-be-famous steak that had been brought from Spain, actually took place on the morning of 21 July. The error has led to some speculation that the suggestion made by Contador’s legal team that the steak in question was tainted with clenbuterol did not stand up as the rider appeared to have clenbuterol in his system before eating the meat.

Contacted by AS, a source at the CAS who preferred to remain anonymous admitted that a mistake had been made when the report was typed up. “Yes, it’s definitely a mistake. We’d always been talking about 21 July. I can’t confirm this officially at the moment because we have an internal procedure to follow, which includes correcting any errors, but there’s practically no doubt about this [being a mistake].”

Further on in the report, article 416 effectively corrects the earlier error by referring to the blood test taking place on 21 July.

Speaking to AS, Fran Contador, the rider’s brother and manager, confirmed that Contador’s legal team have put in a request to the CAS for a correction to be made. No one at CAS nor on Contador’s legal team had noticed the error until reference was made to it by a reporter from AS during the rider’s press conference on Tuesday evening in his home town of Pinto.

“In all honesty, we don’t attach too much importance to it because the mistake does not affect the decision,” Fran Contador explained. “We have asked for it to be changed to avoid any adverse interpretations, but everyone knows that the control was carried out on the 21st. For our lawyers it’s not relevant, because they are studying the complete resolution to see if we’ve got reason for a complaint.”

Contador’s only remaining recourse if his legal team does find reason for complaint is to make an appeal to the Swiss supreme court.

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).