Contador loses his title

"El Pisolero" Alberto Contador during the 2011 Tour de France (photo, SaxoBank)

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND – Spain’s Alberto Contador has been suspended from cycling for two years after the CAS sports tribunal in Lausanne, TAS, found him guilty on one count of doping. The winner of the 2010 Tour de France loses his crown as a result; it should now go to Andy Schleck of Luxembourg who came in second.

Contador was accused of using clenbuterol. The rider argued that he ate steak from a Basque producer, which accounted for its presence in his system.

Clenbuterol is sometimes used by farmers, although its use is banned in Europe. The hearing was in November but the CAS issued a statement earlier saying the final decision would be delayed because media rumours about the fairness of the hearing had prompted the organization to ensure the parties all agreed to the members of the panel.

The three-member panel’s president, Efraim Barak of Israel, had refused at one point to accept testimony of an expert witness brought in by Contador’s lawyers.

The two other members of the panel are Swiss: Quentin Byrne-Sutton, a Geneva lawyer, and Ulrich Haas, a Zurich professor.

Contador is the second Tour de France winner to lose his title for doping; Floyd Landis, American, lost it in 2006 title after testing positive for testosterone.

The Spanish rider has won three Tour de France titles (2007, 2009 and 2010) and is one of only a handful of cyclists to have won the three main competitions in the sport.

He tested positive on a day of rest during the Tour de France, in July, but the confirmation came only two months later. He was suspended by the international cycling body UCI, then re-instated by Spain’s federation, before being suspended again when the world anti-doping agency Wada, based in Lausanne, and UCI appealed the Spanish decision.

The ban will run until August 2012, which puts Contador out of the Tour de France 2012 in July. The suspension is retroactive to 25 January 2011 and provisional suspensions of five months 19 days in 2010 and 2011 were taken into account.

CAS – TAS sentence in full, Contador (pdf)