Exciting new hairstyle or clever dope test evasion?
Scientists are in heated debate about the efficacy of a hair follicle test for clenbuterol. However, there’s currently a loophole that the Spaniard has used to his advantage.
It’s a question of color. “Clenbuterol sticks at least 20 times better to dark hair than to blonde,” Detlef Thieme, director of Germany’s WADA-accredited lab in Kreischa, told AP.
Perhaps it was such an ironic coincidence, but Alberto Contador showed off his new hair blonde hair color in Madrid. “I needed a change, these last few months have been difficult and so I decided to do something impulsive,” said Contador of his dramatic new blonde hair.
Anti-doping experts were divided on how the color switch might affect the hair test. “It’s just a foolish attempt as the hair will revert to his real color. It’s a waiting game, the test is quite well-calibrated,” said Stefan Dopcheck, a scientist with WADA.
That opinion was contradicted by Danish expert Michael Peecupzen. “An over-the-counter hair color would significant alter the follicle structure. It would invalidate the test.”
For his part, Contador expressed delight with his new look. “I always like Billy Idol, Rebel Yell was one of my favorite songs. My brother Fran agrees, now is the time for rebellion.”
In recent months, Contador admitted that the constant stress of the doping investigation was causing his hair to fall out. It was a situation that worried his stylist Carmen Rivera, owner of Mas Elegante. But for now, he’s going blonde, not bald.
With rumors of a possible year ban in wild circulation, Contador risks losing his 2010 Tour de France title and spending the next year in legal maneuvering, far from the racing action.
That prospect doesn’t’ seem to faze the SPaniard. “Andy Schleck told me he loves my new look. I will go to the Court of Arbitration in good spirits, with confidence and style.