ASO head man Christian Prudhomme has a screaming migraine headache.
He woke up this morning feeling fine but then received the terrible news that the Court for Glacial Arbitration in Sport is postponing the Contador case.
Prudhomme knew what that meant in a millisecond: the tainted winner of the 2010 tour, who failed a rest day doping test, the guy that likes a little clenbuterol on his steak, is now free to ride this year’s Tour de France.
In reacting to the disturbing events, Prudhomme appeared to be in shock and denial: “We are surprised because the CAS had repeatedly declared that the decision would be made before the start,” he said. “We can only repeat what we said since the fall: we expect a response before the Tour.” Expect all you want but that bateau has already sailed.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. Both Contador and the UCI had agreed that it was imperative to get this settled before the Tour de France. It was bad enough the Spaniard was riding (and winning) the Giro d’Italia but the hope of all cycling fans was for a verdict before July 2nd.
According to news reports, it was Contador’s legal team that requested the delay in order to bring additional evidence to the table. Why they’re still in the information gathering stage after almost a year is a surprise and a disappointment. Why the UCI agreed to the postponement is another question yet to be answered.
Between the embarrassing Landis-Hamilton-Armstrong saga and the embarrassing Contador case, the sport of cycling has two black eyes. There’s no date set for the resolution of either debacle. We’re getting that Operacion Puerto feeling all over again.
It’s a huge headache for everyone involved but nobody is in more pain than Mr. Prudhomme. Because now, with the CAS postponement, he has to decide which risk he prefers. He’s caught between a rock and a Contador.
First bad scenario: keep Contador in the tour with the possibility that he wins again only to have CAS rule against him and lose both the 2010 and 2011 titles. A Prudhomme nightmare.
Second bad scenario: Prudhomme feels compelled to protect the image of the tour by taking back Contador’s invitation but leaving himself open to a firestorm of criticism if Alberto is later cleared by CAS.
That’s a migraine no matter which way he decides to go. It’s all on Christian Prudhomme now. He’s taken seven aspirin, turned off all the lights and crawled back into bed.