WADA chief advises Contador to skip the Tour de France

WADA President John Fajey (l) and Director General David Howman earlier this year.

WADA President John Fajey (l) and Director General David Howman earlier this year. (Image credit: AFP)

David Howman, the director general of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), has suggested Alberto Contador should skip this year’s Tour de France but has also defended the decision of Court of Arbitration for Sport to delay the Spaniard’s hearing until August.

Last week Howman told Cyclingnews that WADA does not run cases to win them but to ensure that proper justice is done.

“Legally, he has every right (to ride). It’s up to him. I wouldn’t advise him to do it but I can’t tell him not to,” Howman told Spanish newspaper AS.

“We have not formally opposed the postponement of his hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) because our main objective is that justice is respected to the fullest.

“We will await the ruling of CAS and then accept its decision. I don’t think I can say more. We intend to let CAS do its job without any pressure, at least from our part. We have never sought to prejudge Contador or anyone else. In the interest of everyone, we have to ensure that the law is respected.”

Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol in a test carried out on the second rest day of the 2010 Tour de France. The anti-doping laboratory in Cologne, Germany, detected just 50 picograms of Clenbuterol in his sample but there is currently no minimum threshold for Clenbuterol in the WADA anti-doping code. Contador has always claimed that the positive was caused by contaminated meat brought to the Tour by a friend from Spain. He was cleared of doping by the Spanish Cycling Federation in February but both WADA and the UCI have appealed the verdict.

Howman confirmed that WADA is studying a possible threshold for Clenbuterol.

“It would be premature to say something now, before the CAS verdict,” he said. “When we have their sentence, we will meet and decide what we do. We are also collecting further data and we have an open investigation on several continents and we have not completed all of our data. We hear from more people and wait for the ruling.”

Howman confirmed that WADA is also carefully monitoring the Lance Armstrong case in the USA.

“The case has been handed over to federal investigators in the U.S. We’re following it with great interest and we’re very hopeful of a resolution. We’re monitoring every aspect closely and hope there are no outside influences,” he said.

Looking ahead to the London 2012 Olympic Games, Howman reaffirmed that more out-of-competition tests are vital if the Games are to be as clean as possible. He also questioned the need for costly B samples counter-analysis.

“According to our data, the China Games in Beijing 2008 were possibly the cleanest ever,” he said.

“We are doing more and more out-of-competition tests. We know that they are crucial and they’re one of the best things we've managed to implement. We may have to rethink the analysis of a B sample, the so-called counter-analysis. In normal life, a single blood test is enough to send people to jail, while sport requires two tests: it is more expensive and time consuming.”

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