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Tour winner Contador suspended after failing test

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2010-09-30

Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, who won his third Tour de France this year, has been provisionally suspended after a doping test taken during the Tour in July revealed traces of a banned substance.

Three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador was provisionally suspended on Thursday by the International Cycling Union (ICU), after a doping test he took in July found traces of clenbuterol, a banned anabolic agent.

A statement on the ICU’s website said the case would require further investigation before any conclusion could be drawn and that a final decision could take more time.

In a written statement for the Spanish press, the Spanish cyclist had blamed food contamination for the failed test. “The experts who were consulted have also said food contamination was the cause,” the statement said.

Contador on Thursday told a news conference in his hometown near Madrid that the test result was “a clear case of food contamination,” and called the UCI’s suspension “a true mistake.”

The cyclist said the meat was brought across the border from Spain to France during a rest day at the Tour. He said there had been complaints about the food at the hotel where the team was staying.

Jean-Pierre Mondenard, a sports doctor and a specialist in doping cases, hesitated to hand out a guilty verdict for Contador. “The thesis of food poisoning is plausible because the dose of clenbuterol is so low,” he said. “Moreover, it is difficult to believe that Contador has sought to boost his performance with a substance so easy to identify.”

The ICU said that the “adverse analytical finding” of clenbuterol, was detected in a urine sample taken during the second rest day of this year’s Tour de France. A very small concentration of the doping agent prompted a second analysis that confirmed the initial result, the cycling authority said.

The ICU added that it would refrain from making “any further comments until the management of this adverse analytical finding has been completed.”

Christophe Bassoons, a former French professional cyclist who is well-known for his anti-doping stance, said he was not surprised by the ICU's announcement. “Contador and the top ten cyclists get heavy medical assistance. They know the rules and play with them to get around doping bans,” he told FRANCE 24.

Contador, the current Tour de France champion, also won the Tour in 2007 and 2009, besides winning the 2008 Giro in Italy and the 2008 Vuelta in Spain.

US rider Floyd Landis lost his 2006 Tour de France crown after testing positive for doping.

Investigators in Los Angeles have started interviewing witnesses and collecting evidence in an investigation on seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.


Date created : 2010-09-30


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