Alberto Contador Doping Case Marred by Protest at CAS

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01/11/2012| 0 comments
by AP and Roadcycling.com
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.

plasticizer helps conserve red blood cells, but it's not necessary to store plasma in the same type of bag, says Michel Audran, a French expert on blood doping who did not participate in the CAS hearing.

Athletes who cheat by transfusing themselves with oxygen-carrying red blood cells sometimes follow those injections with a shot of plasma or plasma substitutes, to dilute their blood and make their blood readings look normal and above suspicion, Audran added. It takes only minutes to inject these diluting fluids, so cheats could do it when they see doping control officers arriving at their hotels.

Contador's July 21 sample that tested positive for clenbuterol was collected on the second of two rest days at the 2010 Tour, when the exhausted riders typically sleep and recuperate.

Contador says he ate steak on July 20 and again on July 21, and that it must have been contaminated with clenbuterol, a muscle-building and fat-burning drug sometimes used illegally by farmers to bulk up livestock. Contador's lawyers argued that government screening to see if European farmers are dosing animals with clenbuterol is woefully inadequate. They produced a statistician who testified that 99.98 percent of animals in Spain are not subject to these tests, a participant said.

Some participants also questioned CAS' appointment of Barak as panel chair.

An experienced arbitrator, the Israeli lawyer has heard more than a dozen previous CAS cases, nearly all involving soccer. Gunnar Werner, a vice president of ICAS, the body that oversees the court, appointed Barak in this case. The opponents -- WADA and the UCI vs. Contador and Spain's cycling federation -- appointed the two other arbitrators, Geneva-based lawyer Quentin Byrne-Sutton and German law professor Ulrich Haas.

At least twice in two months preceding the hearing, Barak visited Spain to speak on CAS issues at seminars in Madrid. One was organized by the Spanish Football Federation. The other, on Nov. 8, was at Spain's National Sports Agency.

On both occasions, lawyers for Contador also spoke at those conferences. But lawyers for WADA attended the congress on soccer law, too, and representatives of both WADA and the UCI spoke at the Nov. 8 seminar.

To some involved in Contador's case, Barak showed questionable judgment in traveling to Spain so close to chairing the hearing for that country's most successful Tour rider since Miguel Indurain won five straight from 1991-1995.

One participant said WADA's team informally voiced its disquiet to the CAS secretary general, Matthieu Reeb. But WADA lawyers didn't formally challenge Barak's appointment, which suggests they had no solid evidence to successfully argue he should stand aside.

Reeb told the AP that CAS was aware of and comfortable with Barak's trips to Spain.

"We knew that Mr. Barak was invited to speak to the two conferences in Spain. This is neither confidential, nor prohibited," Reeb said. "For the CAS, there was no issue. The conferences were public."

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