We don’t want the head of Contador.” They’d settle for just getting him off his race bike.
That was the quote from UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani as he explained why the UCI decided to appeal the to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) the dismissal of doping charges against Tour de France winner Alberto Contador.
Meat-gate as been the biggest, ugliest story in cycling for the last six months. Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol during last summer’s Tour de France. The Spanish cycling federation originally recommended a one-year suspension, but then flip-flopped and absolved him of charges.
“We know that his appeal will once more be painful for cycling. For months longer, we might have more Contador stories. We don’t know how long – we don’t know the CAS timeline,” Carpani told Cyclingnews.
The comedy part of the announcement was the reference to the Spanish Federation. “We have the greatest respect for the proceedings, and that’s why we have accepted that Contador can still ride. We want to get to a point where we can be sure and we can give you the guarantee that we did everything we could in order to get the best decision.”
That best decision being the one the Spanish Federation refused to make and that the UCI now plans to rectify, goddamn it.
However, Contador’s lawyer Andy Ramos says there’s no way the UCI is getting Alberto’s head . “Alberto does not use performance enhancing drugs and that is the end of the matter. He is not prepared to let his reputation and career to be destroyed like this,” said Ramos. “The UCI should not have appealed the Spanish federation’s decision – the compelling facts and science make it clear that “not appealing” is the only reasonable and just decision.”
This is what’s know in legal jargon as a “difference of opinion.” Head, no head, guilty, not guilty, tired of this story, can’t wait for it to end, thrilled by this story, best soap opera in sports.
A head may indeed eventually roll, but ever so slowly. “I am puzzled that the UCI has waited until the very last moment to appeal,” CAS’s Matthieu Reeb told Reuters. “We lost a few precious weeks because of that. If the parties really want a quick decision, ‘we can arrange that. “Reeb also predicts a “fierce defence” from Contador’s legal team.
So off to the court in Lausanne, Switzerland we go. A decision on Contador is unlikely before the Tour de France no matter what fast-track verdict talk there is. (The Spanish Federation’s own case file on Contador is 600 pages long.) That’s a lot of wading thu documents and as Reeb himself said, “I am pessimistic we can make a ruling before the end of June.”
We can reasonably expect Alberto will start the tour in the yellow jersey and under a dark cloud. Chapeau to no one.