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By now most of you have probably read that Contador has tested positive for a substance called clenbuterol from a control on the eve of the Col de Tourmalet stage on July 21. Clenbuterol is a drug prescribed to sufferers of breathing disorders as a decongestant and bronchodilator. People with breathing disorders such as asthma use this as a bronchodilator to make breathing easier. A good friend of mine who is a medical doctor tells me it’s basically “a poor man’s adrenaline”. It stimulates the same receptors that adrenaline does, similar to ephedrine. It has the identical chemical make-up to Ventolin. It sounds like a drug that would be good for a bike racer, however why would Contador be dumb enough to take a drug like this and expect to get away with it? It’s a drug that’s easy to test for. And why would he take this on a rest day? If he wanted to risk his career then he’d surely find a more sophisticated way than this.
On the other hand, I’ve never read anywhere that Condador is an asthmatic (not that this means much). From what I understand, there’s no reason this drug would be put into food in the large quantities necessary to show positive in a test since it’s metabolized very quickly (depending on when he took it). Also, wouldn’t Astana have their own personal chef? And wouldn’t the whole Astana team eat together? Why would only Contador turn up positive (unless he was the only one tested)? Things don’t add up on a number of levels. (update: many of my initial questions have been answered now)
A couple websites have written this identical paragraph (which I’m not sure of the original source and who the “experts” are):
The experts consulted so far have agreed also that this is a food contamination case, especially considering the number of tests passed by Alberto Contador during the Tour de France, making it possible to define precisely both the time the emergence of the substance as the tiny amount detected, ruling out any other source or intentionality.
After being at the New Pathways to Pro Cycling and listening carefully to Dr. Michael Ashenden who is on the UCI panel of experts for doping related cases, these situations are not cut and dry. There is a lot of consideration that goes into abnormal test results and determining the cause. I’m not one for conspiracy theories and highly doubt that this would or could be swept under the carpet and let go.
My first reaction is always to believe the best in people, however Floyd made a fool out of me once already. Whatever the result is, this is another bad strike for cycling at a time that couldn’t be much worse. One thing is for certain, we’ll definitely start seeing more mainstream media coverage in the press over the next few days. The damage is done. The UCI needs to have better control over how information like this is released before a final decision is made.
Looks like Riche Porte might be Saxobank’s Grand Tour captain next year.
BTW, did anyone noticed Aldo Sassi’s comment about Contador winning 3 Grand Tours next year?
UCI Media Release
“The UCI confirmed today that Spanish rider Alberto Contador returned an adverse analytical finding for clenbuterol following the analysis of urine sample taken during an in competition test on 21st July 2010 on the second rest day of the Tour de France. This result was reported by the WADA accredited laboratory in Cologne to UCI and WADA simultaneously.
“The concentration found by the laboratory was estimated at 50 picograms (or 0,000 000 000 05 grams per ml) which is 400 time less than what the antidoping laboratories accredited by WADA must be able to detect.”
“In view of this very small concentration and in consultation with WADA, the UCI immediately had the proper results management proceedings conducted including the analysis of B sample that confirmed the first result. The rider, who had already put an end to his cycling season before the result was known, was nevertheless formally and provisionally suspended as is prescribed by the World Anti-Doping Code.
“This case required further scientific investigation before any conclusion could be drawn. The UCI continues working with the scientific support of WADA to analyse all the elements that are relevant to the case. This further investigation may take some more time.
“In order to protect the integrity of the proceedings and in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code, the UCI will refrain from making any further comments until the management of this adverse analytical finding has been completed.”
Also, interesting letter that was posted on Velonation from Andy Ramos (Contador’s attorney) to Dr Douwe de Boer. I don’t know if Dr Boer is like Dr. Spaceman from 30 Rock, but I’ll assume his opinion is valid.