I don’t know what has surprised me more over the past few days; Lance Armstrong’s case being shut down after almost two years of investigation or the news of Alberto Contador receiving a two year ban and having his 2010 Tour de France title stripped. To me, both of them seemed just as unlikely.
So there you have it. Contador has been stripped of his 2010 TdF win which goes to Andy Schleck. Contador’s 2011 Giro win goes to Michele Scarponi (who was implicated in the Operación Puerto and suspended). His sanction is a two-year period of ineligibility starting retroactively on 25 January 2011, minus the period of provisional suspension served in 2010-2011 (5 months, 19 days). The suspension will therefore come to an end on August 5, 2012. Just in time to race the Vuelta.
The Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) has ruled that the probability of Contador’s contaminated meat defence is very low. So he was not convicted for doping, he was convicted of traces of an illegal substance being found in his body. Is there a difference?
The Panel found that there were no established facts that would elevate the possibility of meat contamination to an event that could have occurred on a balance of probabilities. Unlike certain other countries, notably outside Europe, Spain is not known to have a contamination problem with clenbuterol in meat. Furthermore, no other cases of athletes having tested positive to clenbuterol allegedly in connection with the consumption of Spanish meat are known.
You can read the CAS ruling here.
This brings up the principle of “Strict Liability” in the WADA code. Just like when you get a speeding fine, it’s up to you to prove your innocence when adverse results are found.
From the WADA Code Q&A:
It means that each athlete is strictly liable for the substances found in his or her bodily specimen, and that an anti-doping rule violation occurs whenever a prohibited substance (or
its metabolites or markers) is found in bodily specimen, whether or not the athlete intentionally or unintentionally used a prohibited substance or was negligent or otherwise at fault.
Where does this principle come from?
Prior to the January 1, 2004, implementation of the World Anti-Doping Code (Code)—the core document that provides the framework for harmonized anti-doping policies, rules, and
regulations within sports organizations and among public authorities—, the principle of strict liability had been applied by the International Olympic Committee in its Anti-Doping Code as well as by the vast majority of pre-Code anti-doping sports rules. In accordance with WADA’s stakeholders’ wishes, the Code continues to apply the same principle.
This rule sounds severe. Is there any flexibility to take into consideration the circumstances or intention of the athlete?
Yes, there is flexibility when a sanction is being considered.The rule is the starting point so that, while an anti-doping rule violation occurs regardless of
the athlete’s intention, there is flexibility in the sanctioning process to consider the circumstances.
Perhaps because Contador is one of the more affable blokes in the peloton he’s getting a fair amount of sympathy and understanding. The case was not cut and dry like so many others, so it was always going to be a contentious outcome.
“There is no reason to be happy now”, commented Andy Schleck. “First of all I feel sad for Alberto. I always believed in his innocence. This is just a very sad day for cycling. The only positive news is that there is a verdict after 566 days of uncertainty. Now, we can move on.”
“I trust that the CAS judges took all things into consideration after reading the 4,000 page file. If now I am declared overall winner of the 2010 Tour de France it will not make me happy. I battled with Contador in that race and I lost. My goal is to win the Tour de France in a sportive way, being the best of all competitors, not in court. If I succeed this year, I will consider it as my first Tour de France victory.”
Eddy Merckx (via Velonation)
“It’s a sad day for Alberto Contador; it’s a sad day for cycling, I think people want to kill off cycling”
Oscar Pereiro (translated via Twitter)
“Two years of sanctions and the judgment provides that the doping is not tested. That sons of a …. “. “Now go and celebrate with the gold visa so calm, ” “Two years of punishing Alberto Contador and the judgment provides that the doping is not proven. Then? That children of the great ….” “We already have two Spanish without the UCI sanctioned or have it proven SAD. Shame I should give you are gaining on us . ”
“You know I think? That is innocent, you know. Would go to the end and sink to the gang that we pay and do their work like crap . If not for what I like and why work would fail to see the bike. always said and will say, hopefully one day treat us equally. ”
“And clearer yet. What really is rotten in cycling are your leaders, who become millionaires with our sweat and effort. HP “, “And for this wait two years and not have the balls to say at the time ? You will see the duster Mr. McQuaid and company.”
“I’m screwed as rarely . Maybe it’s because I know these characters. Now go celebrate with the gold visa and so quiet! I really do not know is that Albert will be two years standing. But the shame that given and the mediocrity of his work has been discovered. It is true that you can compete in August for the two-year ban has since August 2010. But why do you have left to run until yesterday?
Scarponi (via Velonation)
“For what concerns the human aspect, I’m very sorry for Alberto; for what concerns the professional aspect, this decision doesn’t change the value of the results I obtained and the targets for the future.”
UCI President Pat McQuaid
“This is a sad day for our sport. Some may think of it as a victory, but that is not at all the case. There are no winners when it comes to the issue of doping: Every case, irrespective of its characteristics, is always a case too many.”
Tour de France Director Christian Prudhomme
At last an answer after a process that never ended. It is here now, that’s a good thing, but it is obviously very late, too late. It is fundamental that there be less time between sports’ justice and sports and media events. Alberto Contador kept cycling for 18 months. He was cycling everywhere. … As for the winner of the Tour de France 2010, it needs to be confirmed by the UCI. But logically, it will be Andy Schleck as soon as the UCI tells us.”
Mark Cavendish (via Twitter)
“Regardless of the outcome for Contador, I just wish, for the sake of our sport and everyone in it, that a decision had been made sooner.”
“If he didn’t follow the rules, it’s normal that there is a suspension. We work hard against doping because we don’t want cheaters and that’s probably why he got such a heavy suspension.”
Just as we spoke about yesterday, “Those who are connected to the right power centers in cycling are going to continue to get away with doping. The ones who are dispensable will fall.”.
What’s your reaction? Are you still a cycling fan after the past few days? Don’t worry – if you’re new to the sport you’ll see that these things will come up time and time again. Just love it for what it is…