It has taken nearly 18 months, but Alberto Contador has finally been found guilty of doping during the 2010 Tour de France, according to BBC Sport. He has been stripped of his victory that year along with all of his results from the January 25, 2011—including the 2011 Giro d’Italia.
He will also receive a fine of nearly €2.5 million if the Court of Arbitration for Sport approves the International Cycling Union's request, as reported by CyclingNews.com.
Contador returned a positive test in a sample taken on the second rest day of the Tour. The sample contained 50 picograms per milliliter of clenbuterol—a drug that helps oxygen transportation and fat burning, as well as being a stimulant—an amount 400 times below the minimum detection limit for laboratories.
It does not occur naturally in the human body, and there is no permissible amount allowed in test results.
Contador has maintained that the substance was ingested via a contaminated steak brought in especially for him from Spain—a claim that gained some credibility after 109 players tested positive in the Under-17 World Cup soccer tournament in Mexico.
While the use of clenbuterol is apparently not uncommon in Mexico, Spanish farmers were outraged by Contador’s claim that his steak was contaminated.
Contador was also implicated in the Operation Puerto doping scandal, along with a number of his Astana teammates, when documents with the initials AC were found, but he managed to squeak clear when he refused to give a DNA sample for comparison against blood bags seized during the investigation.While opinions will be divided about whether Contador is actually guilty—like Floyd Landis in 2006, Contador and his followers strenuously deny any wrongdoing—the real travesty in this case is the amount of time taken to reach a verdict.
Is Contador's two-year ban a fair result?
By allowing Contador to continue to race, he has influenced results, and where he claimed victories, he has robbed the rightful winner of their moment of glory.
We also shouldn’t forget that Contador’s doping in the 2010 Tour robbed Andy Schleck of the privilege of riding into Paris wearing the yellow jersey—a privilege he may never get again.
It’s about time that a positive test result (in both the A and B samples) meant an automatic suspension that stays in place until all court cases and appeals have been exhausted. It might also give a bit of an incentive to stop the delaying tactics and get the case answered.
It’s also time for doping cases to be heard by an independent body—home federations are simply too lenient.
Contador’s conviction further damages the fragile reputation of cycling, although the fact that two Tour de France winners in five years have been stripped of their titles should give some hope that the good guys are winning.
Alberto Contador deserves all of the condemnation that is coming his way. Like many dopers, he refused to take responsibility for his actions, choosing instead to point the finger at anyone else.
Who knows, his conscience may one day have a Landis-like epiphany, and he may come clean about what he’s been up to. No matter what, his reputation as one of the finest cyclists of his generation has just been absolutely destroyed.