The big story of the day today from the world of cycling is that three time Tour de France champ Alberto Contador has tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol and has been provisionally suspended from the sport, pending an investigation. The positive test came on July 21st, while riding in the Tour.
The positive test came about when a lab in Germany detected what they say is “very small concentration” of clenbuterol in Contador’s urine. In fact, it was such a small amount that it was 400 times less than the anti-doping laboratories must be able to detect in their tests. However, the substance is banned outright, and any amount is grounds for immediate action.
For his part, Contador says that the failed test is the result of food contamination from meat that was brought into France from his home country of Spain at the request of the team chef. That chef apparently complained about the quality of the meat that was available in France for preparing meals, and had a friend deliver what he felt was a higher quality product to his kitchen. Contador claims that that meat caused food poisoning that caused the trace amounts of the banned substance to show up in his system. He also says that the UCI, the governing body over international cycling, admitted as much to him when he was informed of the failed test on August 24th.
According to the AP story that I linked to above, Contador’s A and B samples both tested positive for clenbuterol. The article also says that the substance has been around for nearly 30 years, and that there are no indications that you can inadvertently take it. The drug is commonly used to help those who suffer with breathing disorders, such as asthma, and it is banned from cycling to prevent someone from using it to gain an advantage in oxygen intake.
At this time there is no indication that Contador will be stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title. He finished just ahead of Andy Schleck in the race, but there will be an in depth investigation of the events before any decision is made in regards to taking away the title or suspending him from the sport.
Just what cycling needed. A drug controversy surrounding it’s biggest star.