Monday, August 29, 2011

Not off the hook yet

Not that long ago, the sport of cycling was under threat from all the allegations of doping laid against teams and riders. News of stage wins in the classic tours were overshadowed by the doping scandals that were hitting the headlines. Drastic measures had to be taken to ensure the continuation of the sport, those that were found guilty were banned and rigorous tests were carried out on every rider before and after races.

Thankfully, the measures taken seem to have worked and cleaned up the sport.

Now we read that the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) and world cycling's governing body UCI are appealing against the Spanish Cycling Federation's decision to acquit Alberto Contador of doping charges made during the second rest day of the Tour de France in 2010. You may recall that minute traces of the banned substance clenbuterol were found in his urine sample taken before the race began.

Clenbuterol is a banned fat-burning, muscle-building drug. The Spanish cycling federation accepted Contador's explanation that he had inadvertently consumed the drug in contaminated beef.

However, Wada regards clenbuterol as a zero-tolerance drug, although its rules do allow athletes to escape a sanction if they prove "no fault or negligence" on their part.

If the appeal is upheld, then Contador will be stripped of his 2010 Tour win and Andy Shleck, who trailed him by 39 seconds will be declared the winner. Contador will also face a two year ban from the sport.

The hearing will take place on the 21-24th November. I hope for his sake, that Contador is proved innocent. It would be sad for the sport if such a gifted rider was to be banned from taking part.

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