The Contador case: The American perspectives.

Admittedly, the sample is small and anecdotal. Still, the voices are influential, knowledgeable and worth a serious listen. Call it the American Perspective Lite.

In the last month, Bicycling Magazine senior writer Joe Lindsey, former US Postal rider Frankie Andreu and domestic rider Tom Zirbel have all issued their opinion on the case and the ramifications for the sport.

Lindsey, who writes the well-read Boulder Report, has consistently reminded everyone in this long and bizzare saga that in the end Contador still has to prove how he inadvertently ingested a steak with clenbuterol.

He put it this way in a recent column: “Contador’s defense has pushed the inadvertent positive claim successfully. But in its hearing before the Spanish cycling federation, they never presented evidence that meets the threshold for that claim.”

“To pursue a no-fault-or-negligence argument, an athlete must prove not only that inadvertent ingestion was possible but also how it came to be – that is, you have to show that it was the only plausible cause. Then, and only then, can you argue for a reduced ban or no ban.”

Taking that reasoning, it’s safe to say that right or wrong, guilty or not, based solely on the UCI law as written, Lindsey thinks Contador will be sanctioned. (Joe, correct me if I’m wrong.) As Lindsey wrote in his summation, “The clock on Contador’s eligibility may be running out. And whether he admits it publicly or not, I think he is very concerned.”

According the Frankie Andreu, the Contador case should never have even gone to the Court of Arbitration in Sport. “Both his A and B samples tested positive. This should have been an open-and-shut case,” wrote Andreu in a guest editorial in Bicycling Magazine.  ”To let the adjudication process take as long as it has absolutely harms the sport.”

Like Joe Lindsey, Andreu looks at the UCI law and doesn’t seem much wiggle room for the Spaniard. “It would not be fair if Contador got off when others get penalized. Whether it was by accident or on purpose, they suffered the consequences. Many proclaim their innocence, but we have seen that a claim of innocence doesn’t always equate to the truth. The tests provide boundaries and lines that cannot be crossed, even if it’s for a questionable three-time Tour de France winner.”

Tom Zirbel is in a unique position to comment on the Contador trial in Lausanne, Switzerland. He returned to bike racing this season after a suspension for a banned substance dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). Like Contador, he claimed inadvertent ingestion but Zirbel was unable to prove his case.

His guess is the same one that Lindsey and Andreu made: Contador will receive a ban. “I think they’ll probably stick to the program [and issue a suspension]. If they set a precedent here, they’re opening a can of worms,” said Zirbel.

What worries Zirbel are the public ramifications for the sport if Contador should go free. “They’ll see it as hypocrisy and realize that money talks in situations like this. And with the recent allegations from Floyd Landis about UCI corruption, it’s hard not to think that,” said Zirbel. “You’ve got potentially the biggest star of the sport getting off with no real proof of what he saying.”

As we said up front, we’re not suggesting this is the definitive “American Position on Alberto Contador.” However, we’re prepared to say those are three strong voices and a good reflection of what fans in the States think of the Contador case.

From our Twisted Spoke vantage point in California, we don’t see how Alberto Contador will provide convincing proof for his tainted steak claim. While everything in this case has proven unpredictable, we still predict a one year ban and the loss of his Tour title.

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  • Lyndon

    Tour title gone…… along with the Giro.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Lyndon, I just have no idea what's going to happen. I know what should happen but I'm not confident I can predict the outcome. Matt

  • http://twitter.com/velobutter @velobutter

    I'm betting he's going to get away with it…

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Butter, I can imagine a lot of scenarios but him getting off with no ban and no title loss is a stretch for me. That said, you could totally be right. Matt

  • Franck

    Not a chance, Tour gone, Giro too and everything else he won in the past 12 months and a 12 months suspension retroactive from July 2010.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Franck, I like a man who has a clear point of view. Me, I'm just dying to know the verdict — and what the UCI does with it. Which are two different things. Matt

  • Franck

    Problem is I really like Contador.
    But I remember defending Tyler then Floyd… So I've been naive too long, the sport that I love so much has been kidnapped since the early 90's with the advent of EPO and all those new drugs. I know drugs were there before too. Anquetil was outraged that he was asked for an urine sample… Drugs and cheaters has always been amongst us such is life. It just seems to be over the top now.
    fjb

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Franck, I still like Tyler and I love Floyd. I so wish he was still racing. Matt

  • Burton

    If your brother brings the special meat from Spain, you are guilty. It is not like some of the other case where they dined in another country. But his brother brought the meat into French.

    BK

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Burton, it don't look good for El Pistolero. Matt

  • Sam

    This is a reflection of one sport and the issues it faces. But…cycling can hardly be the only sport riddled with PED's. I get weary of the genral public, mostly ill-informed, taking shots at our sport based on the media surrounding the implications of drug use in cycling. That media focus is largely due to the sport's attempts to idntify the use, and attempts (and I emphasize "attempts") to prosecute those using them. I truly believe that there are few, if any, sports that can live up to the same scrutiny and survive. Talk about "big money"…soccer, NFL,…the same scrutiny may be attempted, but if ref's in soccer can be threatened along with their family members (Italian professional soccer scandal) in order to influence the outcome of games, does anyone really think that PED's are not being used in other sports? Cycling isn't perfect…nor are the governing bodies, nor maybe even national federations within each country, but it is moving in a direction toward getting better in my opinion.
    Please do not roll eyes when another cycling hero gets busted. It is for the good cause.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Amen, Sam. Pro cycling is the ONLY sport to make a long term serious attempt at fighting the doping in cycling. Anybody who thinks the NFL doesn't have a horrendous doping problem — along with an unwillingness to tackle it — is a fool. Matt