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Tour de France champ Alberto Contador blames bad meat for positive drug test


Alberto Contador, the three-time Tour de France champion, said bad meat is the reason he tested positive for a banned substance in a doping test administered during this year's Tour.

"It is a clear case of food contamination of which I am the victim," Contador, who has been suspended by the International Cycling Union pending an investigation, said in a press conference this morning (video here) in his hometown of Pinto, Spain (via BBC). He added that his suspension is "a clear mistake."

"It's possible to put your hand in the fire and not burn yourself," Contador, 27, later told Spanish radio station Cadena Cope (via The Guardian). "If it had been a clear case of doping, it would have come out a week later. The food poisoning came from a cut of meat from Spain."

Earlier today, the UCI announced that the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Germany had found a "very small concentration" of clenbuterol, a weight-loss and muscle-building drug that is banned, in Contador's urine sample on July 21.

Clenbuterol, Contador said, "is a substance that does not help performance, and this [tiny] quantity is completely insignificant to improve physical improvement."

Contador explained that, because of complaints about the food at the hotel where the team was staying, meat was brought across the border from Spain to France on a Tour rest day. He says he ate the meat July 20 and 21.

"The UCI itself affirmed in front of me that it was a case of food contamination," he said. "This is a genuine mistake, it's sad that a sport such as this... is involved in things like this. "I think that this will be resolved in a clear way, with the truth up front," he said, adding that the UCI "understands that is a special case, which has to be examined."

More headlines:

Doping in convenient list form

By Cindy Boren  | September 30, 2010; 7:32 AM ET
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Caught athletes are becoming laughable with their excuses.

Posted by: esr11 | September 30, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

True, esr11, but it's also true that it's rediculous it takes months for the tests to be performed, analyzed and released. Such results then become overtly political by simply reporting any positive, no matter that the percentage of the substance was so low that it would not benefit the athlete in any way. Anything political can be spun, and scientific tests done properly should deduce facts, not conjecture.

What I'm getting at is if the science is so rudimentary that the levels of substances found in a positive test have no bearing on the final report - don't test.

We all know the masking agents are so scientifically advanced these days that any cheating athlete has the advantage over the testing platform. To me, Contador's explanation seems entirely credible as no masking agent would be produced on the black market (or any market) to cover up a banned substance that isn't known to improve performance like a steroid, especially in small amounts.

To me the issue all along has been the testing - it's just as corrupt as the numerous number of professional cylcists who brought all this onto themselves from the outset by cheating to find a the competitive edge.

What a sick sport, through and through.

Posted by: JimGoldbloomVA | September 30, 2010 9:38 AM | Report abuse

There have been reports of clenbuterol contamination, including a case in China where at least 70 people were affected by pork. I'm with rider David Millar in that we should give him the benefit of the doubt. If we was on steroids, why just that one day? He was tested many times throughout the race.

And take the case of Armstrong. He never tested positive, yet people want to take him down even now. To what end? What is corrupt is the testing process and the resulting politics and media distortion.

Posted by: clarkesq | September 30, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

...and Elvis still alive

Posted by: cordobes17 | September 30, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Well it's simple to prove his theory. Run the samples from his teammates.

Posted by: anonymouslurker | September 30, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

So why isn't Sally writiing this story? Oh, that's right, Sally doesn't write much anymore. Too bad, let me write the column for her.

"Contador was found to have tested positive for a banned substance during the 2010 Tour de France. Contador, who both loves and hates Lance Armstrong, was the winner of the last Tour. Contador explained away his positive test by saying "All of the riders tested positive because we ate tainted meat" It has been reported that most cyclists now consume only meat in a vain effort to catch up to Lance Armstrong in strength. It is also thought that the International Cycling Union will now ban all riders from the tour in an effort to return God-like Lance Armstrong to the winners' circle. When I last spoke with Armstrong, one year ago before he stopped returning my calls, he predicted something like this woould happen. "As you know Sandy, I am the only major rider on the tour that has never tested positive, because of my superb chemistry, er body chemistry." Lance also advised me, from his home on Mt. Olympus, that the tour director would have to get down on his knees and beg, as I have done many times, to consider his return to cycling for the 2011 Tour. Contador seemed close to tears at his press conference but vowed to be like Lance Armstrong and fight to the end the testing results. "I have retained all of Lance's lawyers and we are already preparing to sue not only the International Cycling Union, but the governments of France, Germany and the US as well" Contador said. Armstrong is expected to testify in Contador's defence as an expert witness on virtually anything. It is hard to conclude this column however without saying how incredible a man Lance Armstrong is and how lucky the world is that in such dire economic times companies still find a way to create commercials using Lance Armstrong and his chiseled lean good looks."

I am, as always, Sally Jenkins, objective journalist.

Posted by: 54465446 | September 30, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

We all know there is doping and cheating at the highest levels in EVERY sport. Why the media and the anti-doping agencies only zero in on cycling and retired baseball "legends" is the mystery.

Posted by: rfe18 | September 30, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Inasmuch as I beleive the doping "crusades" are a bunch of baloney I must admit this is the MAIN reason I refuse to waste my money on racing.

Posted by: creamit20 | September 30, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Clenbuterol is a bronchodilator. It is not a steroid. It helps you breathe better. It is the most abused drug in horse racing for that purpose. It would certainly help a cyclist in an endurance event.

There are many synthetic hormones available to beef producers that are far more effective as a growth accelerator than clenbuterol. Clenbuterol is banned by the USDA in cattle while synthetic hormones aren't. It's possible, but not likely, a quality beef farm would still use clenbuterol as a growth enhancer.

The greater likelihood is that Contador cheated. The dilute concentrations could be the result of Contador using a masking agent.

Posted by: easygoer88 | September 30, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Considering all of the problems that cycling has had in the past with doping, I'll have to admit that I was (and still remain) more than a little skeptical about Alberto's protestations of innocence. Nonetheless, a little more digging into the details of this story suggests we ought to reserve judgement on this affiar until all of the facts are fully investigated.

From Cyclingnews:

From the International Cycling Union (UCI) release: “The concentration found by the laboratory was estimated at 50 picograms (or 0.00000000005 grams per ml) which is 400 time less than what the antidoping laboratories accredited by WADA must be able to detect.” (1)

News that Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has tested positive for the banned stimulant clenbuterol has raised the question: is his assertion that food or supplement contamination is responsible for the result plausible? Cyclingnews spoke with expert Dr. Don Catlin of Anti-Doping Research, Inc. to find out.
"Without knowing what the level [of clenbuterol] in his sample is, it's impossible to say," Catlin said. His laboratory works with supplement makers to detect drug contaminants, and Catlin said that clenbuterol is one of the more common contaminants found in supplements. (2)

In the past the drug was popular amongst athletes before testing was introduced. It is now easily detectable and tends to remain in the body for an extended period of time, making it a poor choice as far as performance enhancing drugs go. (2)


Posted by: wearyargonaut | September 30, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I love Contador's novel and creative defense, "The cow did it." It might just work. I guess, "The dog ate my homework", was already taken.

Posted by: BBear1 | September 30, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

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