Alberto Contador Doping Case Marred by Protest at CAS

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01/11/2012| 0 comments
by AP and
Alberto Contador. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Alberto Contador. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Alberto Contador Doping Case Marred by Protest at CAS

According to AP, lawyers working to prove that Alberto Contador doped at the 2010 Tour de France came "very close" to walking out in protest at his hearing before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

uncontaminated by clenbuterol but which perhaps was stored in a plastic pouch, followed the next day by an injection of blood plasma.

Under this theory, the plasma could have been contaminated with clenbuterol, but may have been stored in a different sort of bag -- a type that didn't shed telltale traces of DEHP, a plasticizer used in medical devices such as intravenous tubing and blood bags.

Lawyers for Contador, however, objected on procedural grounds to Ashenden testifying about that part of WADA's argument, specifically about why DEHP residues showed up in the first sample but not the second, hearing participants told the AP.

Contador's lawyers argued that if he transfused, clenbuterol and plastic residues would have appeared together in his July 21 sample and because they didn't, the transfusion scenario was impossible. His lawyers also called an expert on DEHP who testified that plastics in Contador's July 20 sample could have come from drinking from a plastic bottle, through a plastic straw or from other sources which had nothing to do with doping, a participant said.

The CAS arbitrators ordered the chamber emptied while they deliberated and then called the parties back.

The chairman, Efraim Barak, announced that WADA lawyers were not allowed to question Ashenden about these transfusion issues but could cross-examine an anti-doping consultant for Contador's side, Paul Scott.

Participants said WADA lawyers were so rattled by the judges' handling of this dispute that they debated whether to walk out. One said they came "very close to doing it." "At that point, they seriously were on a knife edge," another said.

But, instead, the WADA team filed a written complaint at the end of the four-day hearing. It alleged the CAS panel failed to respect WADA's right to be heard, including barring questions to Ashenden on the transfusion scenario.

If the CAS clears Contador, this complaint could form part of a possible appeal to the Swiss Federal Tribunal, Switzerland's supreme court. It can review CAS decisions on procedural grounds but would not rehear Contador's case or the merits of the arguments presented. In practice, the court rarely sends cases back to the CAS.

Hearing participants were divided about how damaging to WADA's case the barring of questions on this to Ashenden might have been. One said the Australian expert could have rebutted the argument from Contador's side that transfusion was impossible, by demonstrating that blood and plasma could have been stored in different bags, thus providing one possible explanation for the differing test results from July 20 and 21.

But another said that although transfusion testimony from Ashenden could have formed an "important element" in WADA's case, its legal team was nevertheless able to present other arguments to counter Contador's assertion that eating meat contaminated by clenbuterol caused his positive test.

This participant also said WADA's team didn't feel it was fairly treated by the CAS panel, adding: "If the goal is to put everything on the table and let the truth shine, why would a panel restrict questions?"

Generally, blood is stored in bags containing DEHP because the

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