Floyd Landis and WADA both did their bit to make life just that bit grimmer for Alberto Contador this weekend, the former casting doubt on the 2010 Tour de France winner's defence for his failed drugs test for Clenbuterol while officials of the latter confirmed that should the Spanish Cycling Federation acquit Contador WADA will appeal the decision to the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS).
Speaking to the Spanish newspaper El Pais a World Anti Doping Agency official, while refusing to be drawn on specifics, pointedly drew attention to the organisation's record of challenging decisions by disciplinary bodies that it felt were incorrect.
Contador's woes have been piling up since it was revealed that he failed a drugs test on the second rest day of this year's Tour de France, which he subsequently won. The drug in question, Clenbuterol has no minimum threshold, so any amount no matter how small found in a sample is a positive test. Contador's defence rests on his claim that he ate a steak contaminated with Clenbuterol which increases aerobic capacity and the rate at which body fat is metabolized. The Spanish rider has also questioned the lack of a minimum threshold for a positive test.
WADA has already refuted both strands of Contador's defence, but it is not the body overseeing the disciplinary process. Under UCI rules that falls to the Spanish cycling federation, a body whose officials have been noticeably more sympathetic in their public utterances about the case – a factor that no doubt played a part in WADA's decision to drop such a clear marker of its intentions should due process not deliver the expected result. The UCI has already told the Spanish federation to get a move on with the disciplinary process. Not everyone in Spain is sympathetic to Contador though, as road.cc reported last week, his claim that the dodgy steak originated in his homeland has annoyed the nation's meat producers.
Meanwhile in an interview with the German TV programme, Sportschau, Floyd Landis – the disgraced former 2006 Tour de France winner who was stripped of his title after testing positive for testosterone – cast doubt on Contador's defence claiming that he was aware of Clenbuterol use in the pro peloton.
“I know that riders have taken Clenbuterol. I think that the risk of taking Clenbuterol is higher now than it was earlier, when there weren't any training controls. Nevertheless, there is still the risk of being caught, even if it is rather small now, since the product has usually degraded when the control takes place, he told the show adding, perhaps unnecessarily, "You don't know what risks people will take to win a race."
Landis then went on to accuse the UCI and its current president, Pat McQuaid and his predecessor, Hein Verbruggen of favouring and protecting certain riders and teams as a way of creating stars. Earlier this year in a letter to the Wall Street Journal Landis was more explicit accusing the UCI of hushing up a failed test at the Tour of Switzerland by Lance Armstrong – a claim strenuously denied by both sides with the UCI pointing out that Armstrong didn't compete in the 2002 edition of the race at which Landis alleged the failed test occurred.
Although he has come clean about his drug use, Landis still finds himself in trouble with the authorities with a French judge issuing a warrant for his arrest for allegedly hacking in to the computer system of the French anti-doping agency the AFLD.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.