Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, who won his third Tour de France this year, has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for a banned substance during the Tour in July.
REUTERS - Spanish rider Alberto Contador has been provisionally suspended for returning an “adverse analytical finding” of clenbuterol from a urine sample taken during the Tour de France, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said on Thursday.
The cyclist, who won his third Tour de France this year, was tested during the second rest day of the race and the second B test had confirmed the presence of clenbuterol, a banned anabolic agent, the UCI said in a statement.
“The rider, who had already put an end to his cycling season before the result was known, was nevertheless formally and provisionally suspended as is prescribed by the World Anti-Doping Code,” the statement said.
The concentration in the A test was “400 time(s) less than what the antidoping laboratories accredited by WADA must be able to detect,” the UCI said in a statement.
“In view of this very small concentration and in consultation with WADA, the UCI immediately had the proper results management proceedings conducted including the analysis of B sample that confirmed the first result.”
The case would require “further scientific investigation” before any conclusion could be drawn and could take some time, the statement added, providing no further comment.
Contador had blamed food contamination for the finding.
“From the moment he was first informed by the UCI on Aug. 24, Alberto Contador indicated that a contamination of food was the only possible explanation for what happened,” his agent said in a statement carried by Spanish media.
“Since then, he has placed himself in the hands of the cycling authorities with the confidence that this extremely serious problem that has now come to light can be resolved.
“Experts consulted have also signalled that food contamination was the origin of the case, above all taking into account the quantity of (doping) tests Alberto Contador took during the Tour de France.
“(This) enabled the exact moment of the appearance of the substance to be determined as well as the very small amount detected, which rules out any other origin or intent.”
Clenbuterol is used to treat breathing disorders, rising blood pressure and for oxygen transportation, and has led to bans for a number of cyclists in the past.
China’s first professional cyclist Li Fuyu, a former RadioShack team mate of Lance Armstrong, was provisionally banned by the UCI in April after returning a positive test for the anabolic agent.
Athletes have also sought to blame food contamination for the elevated presence of clenbuterol in their blood.
In May, the coach of China’s Olympic judo champion Tong Wen blamed a surfeit of pork chops for her positive test.
The Contador finding is another blow for elite cycling, which has struggled to shake off its image as a sport riddled with drug cheats, and threatens to cast a pall over the road world championships being held in Australia’s port city of Geelong this week.
Daily news briefReceive essential international news every morning