LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Nov 21, 2011 (AFP) – Spanish cyclist Alberto
Contador arrived Monday to fight a bid by cycling’s governing body to impose a
doping ban which could strip him of his 2010 Tour de France win.
The three-time Tour de France champion is to plead his case at the
Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sports, which has been charged with
examining if minute traces of clenbuterol found in a urine sample in 2010 is
proof that Contador used drugs to enhance his performance.
Wearing a white shirt and dark suit and surrounded by his lawyers, the
cyclist entered the CAS 20 minutes before the closed-door hearing which is to
last until mid-day on Thursday. He declined to address the media.
The hearing began shortly after mid-day (1100GMT) at CAS, before being
moved to the International Olympic Committee, also in Lausanne, so as to
ensure simultaneous translation during the trial.
No ruling is expected before 2012.
“We will close the debate Thursday and we will have to wait a few weeks to
have a final decision that I think the court will issue around the beginning
of January,” CAS Secretary-General Mathieu Reeb told journalists.
The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) initially cleared Contador of any
wrongdoing after he claimed his sample had been contaminated by a steak which
he ate on the second rest day of the 2010 Tour de France.
That ruling allowed Contador to continue competing, but the International
Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) filed appeals to
A file of some 4,000 pages is being examined by the court chaired by
Israeli lawyer Efraim Barack, who is assisted by Swiss Quentin Byrne-Sutton
and German Ulrich Hass.
More than 20 witnesses are expected at the hearing.
At the heart of the case is the 50 picograms of clenbuterol, found in his
urine on 21 July 2010, during a rest day of the Tour de France at Pau.
Although known as a powerful drug used to treat asthma, clenbuterol can
also help build up lean muscle mass and burn off fat.
Contador’s lawyers argue that he was contaminated by a steak consumed the
previous evening and which originated from his native Spain.
His defense will say that even if the anabolic agent used to boost cattle
growth has been banned in the European Union, there remains the possibility
that it is still being used by some.
The Spanish Cycling Federation bought the argument and in February cleared
Contador of all charges.
However, the UCI and WADA were not convinced and decided to file an appeal
at sport’s highest court — CAS.
WADA and UCI have so far remained tight lipped about the evidence that they
would be putting before the CAS.
If CAS upholds the appeals by the UCI and the WADA, the Spaniard faces a
competition ban and being stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title and the
Giro d’Italia, which he won for a second time this year, and any other
victories since July 2010.
Contador has insisted that he has never taken banned drugs, even going as
far as to pass a lie detector test to prove his innocence.