Today’s announcement that Alberto Contador will receive his own weight in honey was rife with comedic implication and metaphor.
The ceremony, the honey hand-over, is to happen on January 7th in the small town square of Peñalver, to the east of Madrid. Our first thought: sweet and sour! He’s going to get a ton of honey but a week later things may not be so incredibly sweet.
Barring the usual postponement, the Court for Arbitration in Sport will deliver a verdict in the Spaniard’s doping positive for clenbuterol in mid January. That outcome might be sour news and a bitter one or two year suspension. On the other hand, this ruling is a 50-50 toss up. January may in fact be a sweet triumph and vindication for the world’s best stage racer.
Mayor José Ángel Parra decided that Contador was light enough at 60kg that the skinny climber deserved some extra weight — so he’s throwing in the kilos of Alberto’s six tour-winning bikes. Parra was charming in his explanation, saying that the town didn’t want to come off as “stingy” with the honey.
However, Twisted Spoke wonders if this honey ceremony isn’t a subtle comment and poetic allusion to Contador’s legal problems. Ever since he failed a doping test on the second rest day of the 2010 Tour de France, things have been sticky.
The “tainted steak” alibi has been hotly debated, the UCI bungled the case, the Spanish Federation refused to sanction their famous son and the proceedings dragged on through the 2011 Tour de France and beyond. Slow, very slow, like pouring cold honey.
The “sticky” honey metaphor is a good one for the biggest doping case in professional cycling. Associated Press sports columnist John Leicester reported that by the time Contador’s legal submission reached CAS in Lausanne, Switzerland it was over 3,500 pages. As we noted in an earlier story, that beats the page count of Tolstoy’s epic novel War & Peace.
Imagine you have the unenviable task of wading through that avalanche of scientific claims from Contador’s legal team and then you have to tackle the UCI and WADA documents. We’re guessing that Pat McQuaid’s boys churned out at least 1500 pages, give or take a few graphs and charts. Sticky? You bet. The three judges Ulrich Haas, Quentin Byrne-Sutton and Efraim Barak are stuck in a room dealing with a complicated and contentious case — and facing major eye strain.