While Alberto Contador awaits a January verdict from the Court for Arbitration in Sport (CAS) on his failing doping test, he’s in Israel building a school for Jewish and Muslim children.
Meanwhile back in Lausanne, Switzerland the three judges at CAS are debating the biggest doping case in professional cycling. The case could go either way and Contador’s career hangs in the balance. One of the three judges is Efraim Barak, a lawyer from Israel.
Pause for a moment and contemplate the implications of that odd coincidence.
Contador is fighting for his sporting life and reputation. He attended the hearing, brought teammates to vouch for him, a polygraph expert, specialists in the biological passport and a large and very expensive legal team. They submitted over 3,500 pages of legal documents.
On the final day of the trial, Contador himself made a personal appeal before the three judges — Ulrich Haas, Quentin Byrne-Sutton and Efraim Barak.
The Spaniard has done every conceivable thing to win his case with the court. Maybe, in fact, he and Bjarne Riis have gone beyond the conventional.
How many ProTour cycling teams have ever held a training camp in Israel? Until the Saxo Bank squad arrived, the answer would be zero. Yet right after the court date in Switzerland and just as the judges begin their deliberations, the team heads to Barak’s home country.
Team manager Bjarne Riis explained the mission this way: “It’s an ambitious project with visions concerning making living easier in the relationship between Jews and Muslim children, and I believe that in the long run projects like these can turn prejudices to concern.”
That is certainly true and worthy of support and applause. However, Twisted Spoke can’t help but think there’s a second motive that’s just as important. The shrewd Riis is having his team build a school for children in Israel to sway the opinion of Efraim Barak in his rider’s favor.
As legal strategy, it’s brilliant and we’re throwing a chapeau Riis’ way for yet another unconventional and creative idea. For all the thousands of pages of facts and scientific data, the experts and specialists, the arguments and counter arguments, this kind of case is also a very human and emotional one. The stakes are incredibly high for Contador and Riis and the UCI and WADA.
We believe the Saxo Bank charity mission in Israeli isn’t just a “let’s do something different this year” trip. It’s a well calculated move to help Alberto Contador win over a judge.