Cycling: Contador stripped of Tour title

Spaniard banned for two years and loses two titles after being found guilty of doping by CAS

Lusail, Qatar

Five hundred and sixty five days after he tested positive for a minute quantity of the banned substance clenbuterol, road cycling's top star, Alberto Contador, has finally received the maximum ban possible from the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a first doping offence – two years – and has been stripped of his 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro d'Italia titles.

Contador's ban is retroactive, starting on 5 August 2010, and as a result the 29-year-old Spaniard can return to racing later this season. However, he will miss this year's Tour de France, as well as the Olympics, which will indirectly favour the chances of British contender Bradley Wiggins in both events.

Arguably the most controversial and high-profile of all the doping cases to batter the sport in recent years, Contador had argued that the clenbuterol – present in his body at a level far lower than the minimum required to be reported by an anti-doping laboratory – had shown up because he had eaten contaminated beef during the 2010 Tour. Contador was cleared by his federation in February 2011, but an interminably lengthy appeal by both the World Anti-Doping Agency and the UCI, cycling's governing body, to CAS has finally seen him banned.

The retroactive nature of the verdict means that, following Floyd Landis's positive test in the 2006 Tour de France, the winner of cycling's flagship event has been stripped of his title because of a doping affair for the second time in five years. On a third occasion, in 2007, Contador himself claimed the first of his Grand Tour victories after the Dane Michael Rasmussen was expelled amid doping accusations. For cycling, the two-year ban was taken in some quarters as a knockout blow, while others believed it proved just how hard a line on cycling takes on doping.

The five-times Tour de France winner Eddy Merckx said: "It is catastrophic for cycling and for Contador. If he had been a football player, he would never have tested positive. Only cycling goes so far [in searching for banned drugs]. When you go down to such a low percentage, you always find something."

The former world road race champion, Thor Hushovd, said: "It took too long a time to sort out, but it shows that we are really tough on banned drugs."

As a result of the ban, Andy Schleck will inherit the 2010 Tour title, while Michele Scarponi will now be declared the winner of the Giro. Schleck has already said he always considered Contador to be innocent and that if he won this summer, he would consider it his first Tour de France victory.

What is beyond all doubt is the damage caused to a sport's image while doping appeal cases grind through the courts, not to mention the often absurd reshuffling of results if the athletes are declared guilty. It highlights what many feel is an excessive time lapse between a positive drugs test being announced, and its final resolution.

However, the exceptionally complicated nature of the Contador case, makes it difficult to see how proceedings could have been shortened.

The precedents on clenbuterol positives are radically contradictory. Wada itself had cleared 109 footballers who tested positive in Mexico for quantities of clenbuterol as minute as Contador's 50 picograms after eating contaminated meat during an Under-17s World Championships in 2011. Another case, involving a top German table tennis player, Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who had tested positive for the same drug was also thrown out on appeal.

CAS pointed out that Spain had not had a history of clenbuterol contamination in meat, and said the positive was most likely to have been caused by a contaminated food supplement.

The secretary general of CAS, Matthieu Reeb, said: "There was no reason to exonerate the athlete, so the sanction is two years."

Contador will have to decide in the next 30 days if he will appeal against the decision in the Swiss civil courts, and he will find out, in a further CAS verdict, whether he has pay the UCI a fine of $3.25m (£2m). He could return as early as the Vuelta a Espana, which starts on 18 August. His brother and agent, Fran, said yesterday: "Contador will come back to racing."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electricians

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fully qualified electricians re...

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Recruitment Genius: Operations / Transport & Logistics Assistant

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This highly regarded industry l...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Team Leader

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you want to work for a Compa...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower