Details continue to emerge concerning the AP news story that WADA lawyers at the Contador hearing considered walking out after the judges refused to allow oral testimony by their doping expert Michael Ashenden.
According to several sources, WADA lawyers were also shocked that while their scientific expert was not allowed to speak, several of Contador’s teammates were permitted to give depositions.
“It’s absurd — it this a trial or a circus? This makes no sense whatsoever,” said Lars Sergin, a self-described member of the WADA legal team. “So, they tell the judges that Contador is a really nice guy and would never cheat and our biological passport expert can’t say a word?”
Contador’s Saxo Bank teammates Benjamín Noval, Jesús Hernández and Paolo Tiralongo made the trip to Lausanne, Switzerland to testify before the Court of Arbitration in Sport. A number of legal experts questioned what possible relevant information his teammates could provide about the clenbuterol-laced steak.
“It’s really beyond my understanding. What bearing does their testimony have on whether he unknowingly ingested clenbuterol,” asked Sergin. “Oh, the steak was delicious or yes, your honor, the steak was a little over-cooked. Did Alberto takes eight bites or ten? It’s stupid.”
Ashenden was a key witness for WADA and a well-respected expert in pinpointing blood manipulation. At this time, the three judges have provided no explanation on why he was not allowed to testify and the Spaniard’s training buddies were given free reign to speak. WADA has officially denied the AP story in a press release, stating that “at no stage did WADA challenge any member of the panel for a lack of independence.”
From the beginning, the Contador CAS trial has been surrounded by controversy, postponements and delays. This week RadioShack-Nissan financial backer Flavio Becca openly questioned the impartiality of the proceedings. He drew a connection between Saxo Bank’s odd choice of a training camp in Israel and the fact that the presiding judge in the case is Israeli. The UCI has since issued a statement reiterating their faith in the judges.
Sergin, however, is not so sure about the fairness of the trial. “Really, what is going on when the experts are muzzled and legal weight is given to Contador’s best friends? Does nobody else find it bizarre that Noval is allowed to bring in a cow from Spain into the courtroom and parade it around the room? Does nobody think it’s ridiculous that Tiralongo does a flamingo dance for the judges? I felt like I was back in Spain with those clowns from the Federation.”
With a verdict due as soon as next week, the accusations on both sides are sure to be pronounced. Twisted SPoke will continue to follow this story closely.