Alberto Contador Doping Case Marred by Protest at CAS

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01/11/2012| 0 comments
by AP and Roadcycling.com
Alberto Contador. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Alberto Contador. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Alberto Contador Doping Case Marred by Protest at CAS

According to AP, lawyers working to prove that Alberto Contador doped at the 2010 Tour de France came "very close" to walking out in protest at his hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

According to AP, lawyers working to prove that Alberto Contador doped at the 2010 Tour de France came "very close" to walking out in protest at his hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The attorneys are upset over the silencing of testimony and the conduct of judges, including one with connections to Contador's home country, Spain, according to people directly involved in the case.

They spoke on condition of anonymity, concerned that disclosing events from the closed-door proceedings in November could annoy the arbitrators and perhaps sway their deliberations.

The revelations come as sport's highest legal body prepares to rule whether the three-time Tour winner should be banned for testing positive for the performance-enhancer clenbuterol or whether Spanish authorities were right to clear him.

Contador says the clenbuterol came from beef he ate while competing in the Tour de France. Lawyers for the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Cycling Union (UCI), the sport's governing body, presented the CAS panel with another scenario for the failed test: Clenbuterol entered his body via a banned, performance-boosting blood transfusion.

The three CAS judges, however, stunned WADA lawyers by blocking oral testimony from one of their witnesses, Australian doping expert Michael Ashenden, hearing participants told the AP.

Hearing participants said Ashenden, if allowed, could have expanded on the theory that Contador may have had a blood transfusion on July 20, followed the next day by an injection of blood plasma.

The Tour de France was in its third week at that point, and Contador was nursing a lead of just 8 seconds over Team Saxo Bank rival Andy Schleck, following three punishing days of mountain climbs in the Pyrenees.

A transfusion would have supercharged Contador for the final four stages to the finish in Paris, especially on the last day in the Pyrenees on July 22, when he stuck glue-like to Schleck's wheel up the fabled Col du Tourmalet, and during the time trial in Haut Medoc wine country on July 24, when Contador widened the gap over Schleck to 39 seconds -- a lead he carried to the Champs-Elysees finishing line the next day.

Contador has steadfastly denied having a transfusion. "It is a science fiction story," his spokesman, Jacinto Vidarte, told the AP in October 2010.

If CAS rules against him, Contador can expect a two-year ban and could become only the second Tour champion to be stripped of a victory for doping. The first was Floyd Landis, the 2006 winner.

There is no conventional doping test to spot when athletes transfuse their blood. Further confusing this case is that urine samples Contador gave on July 20 and on July 21 produced different results.

The July 20 sample had no clenbuterol, but did contain traces of plastic residues that could have come from plastic pouches often used to store blood, hearing participants told the AP.

The July 21 sample did contain a very low concentration of clenbuterol, but no plastic traces.

Ashenden could have explained to the CAS that Contador might have had a blood transfusion on July 20 which was

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