A decision on Alberto Contador’s case relating to his positive test for banned substance clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France is due on Thursday (January 27).

The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) is due to announce the outcome of its investigation and detail any suspension from competition.

Several Spanish papers, including Marca and AS, have stated that Contador will likely receive a one-year ban and be stripped of his 2010 Tour de France win.

A one-year rather than the more usual two-year ban from competition indicates the complexity – and a degree of uncertainty – of the case.

In the event of a one-year ban, it is possible that either or both of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) could take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to increase the ban to two years. WADA has already stated that it is ready to take the case to CAS in the event of an aquittal.

However, earlier this month it was reported that the UCI and WADA had been invited by RFEC to help reach a joint decision in the case. A collaboration was subsequently denied by the UCI, but if it is correct then it is unlikely that any party will take the case further with CAS.

Contador tested positive for clenbuterol from a urine sample taken on the second rest day of the 2010 Tour de France on July 21 in Pau. Clenbuterol can be used to reduce the amount of body fat in athletes leading to overall weight loss and an increase in ratio of muscle to fat.

A low amount of the drug was found in Contador’s urine sample – 50 picograms or 0.000 000 000 05 grams per millilitre – but its use is banned at any level.

The Astana rider quickly blamed tainted meat as the source of the clenbuterol, claiming that a friend had imported a steak from Spain for him to eat. Unscrupulous farmers have in the past used clenbuterol to increase the quality of meat from their livestock, although its use in farming is banned European Union.

WADA tested meat from the butcher and abbatoir in Irun, Spain, where Contador’s meat originated but found no trace of clenbuterol.

The Spaniard has been provisionally suspended by the UCI since August, when news of the positive test broke. A back-dated one-year ban would mean Contador would possibly be free to ride again in August this year, in time for the Vuelta a Espana.

Related links

UCI admits it had documentation on Contador case since early December

WADA disputes Contador contaminated meat theory

Contador welcomes disciplinary hearing into clenbuterol case

Contador strengthens defence team in clenbuterol case

What next for Contador?

Spain’s sports minister urges patience in Contador case

Saxo Bank to continue team sponsorship with or without Contador

Riis has a plan B is Contador is banned

How does clenbuterol testing work

Contador considers quitting cycling due to doping scandal

Tension rises over Contador’s clenbuterol case

Contador case splits experts’ opinions

Alberto Contador: The clenbuterol, the beef excuse and traces of plastic

Spanish authorities investigate source of Contador’s mystery meat

McQuaid quiet on Contador case but says Spain can do more

Did Contador have a transfusion during the Tour?

Contador points finger at imported meat for clenbuterol positive

Contador tests positive for clenbuterol says governing body

  • john burgess

    If Contador claims he is so innocent, why doesn’t he threaten to quit the sport if he only receives a one year ban?

  • Brian

    @ Jim Kendall

    Jim, your logic sounds terribly naive. Most of us “with half a grain of sense” have already used the he-has-too-much-to-lose-to-have-doped reasoning when our favorite rider got busted. And where did that get us? We eventually found out we were being played for suckers.

    Maybe I’ve missed something, but what busted rider hasn’t initially denied the charges? Won’t the next one be the first?

  • adam

    Phil, I agree with the first bit…. less sure about the conclusion.

  • red balloon

    a banned substance is a banned substance. Contador already has a murky past. Even if it came from dodgy meat, which I doubt, he is a world class athlete and he should be careful where he gets his meat from. He has every opportunity to buy his meat from a recognised, small scale, free range butcher / abatoir; he could store it etc. The meat excuse is a little ridiculous. lets hope he gets a two year ban.

  • Jim Kendall

    Yet another cyclist, Danish, blood tested positive for banned muscle builder Clenbuteral:
    “I can safely say that I have not taken the substance knowingly. I have been fully aware of the team’s values and philosophy — which the team has always turned to — any kind of doping is cheating and not under any circumstances acceptable,” Nielsen said on the Danish cycling site.
    The irony: that anyone with half a grain of sense should know that this guy, and Alberto Contador of Spain, are speaking the truth. Neither of these guys is so stupid as to risk the ruination of a $-multi-million career by taking such an overly-easily-detected banned substance. It’s an illegal substance in the cattle industry, but still in use. You’re a world-hopping champion cyclist; you can’t go into a restaurant & know-for-sure the meat isn’t contaminated with Clenbuteral…!
    The “Gotta Love It”: here the cycling world is ripped-apart for months now debating the guilt/innocence of Contador; to where they’re so late with the verdict, he may not have time to enter this year’s Tour de France. And @ the 11th-hour (as they are about to decide…) along comes this Danish cyclist with precisely the-same-circumstance-and-statement! If the big guns in the industry don’t “take the hint” & exonerate Contador, they’re total MORONS.
    Contador has already – shouting his obvious innocence – said that if he is given the 2-year penalty, that he’ll not return to the sport. And I wouldn’t blame him. Maybe this case will wake up the officials to the vulnerability of their tests.

  • Andy

    In days gone by cattle are fed Clenbuterol, then shot and turned into sausages. Alberto’s one year ban doesn’t seem that bad to me!

  • Jon

    @Phil – you don’t think WADA would have used a lab capable of detecting the requisite level of clenbuterol? That would be a bit pointless wouldn’t it? I expect Contador’s lawyers have already checked that one.

    Don’t you think there’s anything fishy about positives for both clenbuterol and plasticisers? I’d say the odds of him not having cheated are pretty remote given the available evidence.

  • Henry

    Although this is of course great news that the whole issue is getting sorted out, couldn’t they have made the decision on a tuesday or something. I feel sorry for all those cycling magazines that are released on thursdays….

  • Phil Riley

    The article states that the use od Clenbuterol in animals is banned worlwide.
    It’s use is banned in sport as well but we still have positive tests. The fact that it is banned doesn’t mean it is not being used. The authorities tested samples of meat from the shop in Irun where Contador claims to have bought the infected meat. there are only four labs worldwide which can detect the amount of Clenbuterol found in Contador’s sample. Was the meat tested in one of these labs. The case should have been dropped months ago.