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Cycling: Contador in court battle to escape two-year ban

Alberto Contador faces a four-day battle at the Court of Arbitration for Sport starting today to clear his name over a positive test for a minute quantity of clenbuterol.

Contador was cleared by his federation in February after the Spaniard claimed the positive test was due to a contaminated steak that he ate en route to victory in last year's Tour de France, his third in the race.

Both the World Anti-Doping Agency and the Union Cycliste Internationale, cycling's governing body, are appealing against the verdict and the four-day hearing that will decide Contador's future starts today in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Spaniard's defence centres around the illegal use of clenbuterol to increase muscle mass in meat. This summer in Mexico five of the national football team tested positive for the substance in the Concafcaf Cup, and a further 109 tested positive in the Under-17 World Cup. No charges were brought.

Wada backed down on an appeal on the Fifa cases, all attributed to meat contamination, but has not been so forgiving with Contador, who faces a ban of up to two years for a quantity so small it was 40 times under the limit required for anti-doping laboratories to report.

Wada's very different approach to Contador centres on its conviction that unlike in Mexico and south-east Asia clenbuterol is detected in European livestock infrequently.