It took two years, but the doping allegations facing Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador have finally caught up to him.
Contador tested positive for a banned substance during the 2010 Tour de France — which he went on to win. At the time, he blamed the positive test on contaminated meat and was later cleared by the Spanish cycling federation, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport came to a different decision.
On Monday, CAS rejected Contador’s tainted meat claim, suspended the three-time Tour champion for two years and stripped him of the 2010 title .
On July 21, 2010, Contador tested positive for clenbuterol — a drug with anabolic effects, that acts as a stimulant, increasing heart rate. Farmers, particularly in China, illegally use the drug to bulk up their livestock, and some athletes have tested positive after eating meat containing what the Chinese call “lean meat powder.”
But the CAS panel upheld appeals by the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Cycling Union, which disputed Contador’s claim, ending an 18-month legal saga.
In its ruling, CAS said the positive test was more likely to have come from a contaminated supplement Contador took, not contaminated meat.
“Unlike certain other countries, notably outside Europe, Spain is not known to have a contamination problem with clenbuterol in meat,” the ruling said. “Furthermore, no other cases of athletes having tested positive to clenbuterol allegedly in connection with the consumption of Spanish meat are known.”
Contador joins 2006 Tour winner Floyd Landis as only the second champion to lose his title for doping. His two-year suspension was backdated, making him eligible to return to competition on Aug. 6.
Andy Schleck of Luxembourg finished second in 2010 and will be awarded his first Tour title as a result of Contador’s disqualification.
“There is no reason to be happy now,” Schleck said in a statement issued by his team, RadioShack Nissan Trek. “First of all I feel sad for Alberto. I always believed in his innocence. I battled with Contador in that race and I lost.”
On Friday, the two-year federal investigation into allegations that seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong used and distributed performance-enhancing drugs ended.
U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said Armstrong and his teammates would not face federal charges and that all elements of the widespread investigation have been stopped.
“I am gratified to learn that the U.S. attorney’s office is closing its investigation,” Armstrong said in a statement. “It is the right decision and I commend them for reaching it. I look forward to continuing my life as a father, a competitor, and an advocate in the fight against cancer without this distraction.”
Landis and American Tyler Hamilton, two of Armstrong’s former teammates, publicly accused him of using drugs and supplying them to other cyclists.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said its probe into Armstrong’s alleged doping would remain open.
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