Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Illustration for article titled How Alberto Contador Doped (And Were Assuming He Did)

The Tour De France winner's first positive test showed an almost minuscule level of a banned substance, far too small to have been doping. The results of a second test show exactly what he was up to.


Last week it was announced that during the Tour, Contador tested positive for a trace amount of clenbuterol, a stimulant with steroidal properties. His excuse of ingesting tainted meat was publicly derided, but the more that came out, the more legitimate it sounded.

Clenbuterol is used, especially in Spain, in some livestock. Had Contador eaten a filet mignon from Spain, as he claimed, it would produce the small amounts found in his blood. It was plausible, especially since the amount was too small to be consistent with using it as a PED.


What's more, the positive test sample was drawn on a rest day; it would make no sense for him to dope on a day he wasn't on the bike. A sample drawn the day before was completely clean.

The International Cycling Union backed Contador's claims, and a number of experts came forward arguing that he could not have been doping with clenbuterol. They were all correct, but for the wrong reasons.

Today news leaked that a separate test of Contador's urine tested positive for elevated levels of plastic residue; the kind that would show up after a transfusion of blood from a plastic bag.

It's fairly clear that Contador was using illegal blood transfusions: drawing his own blood before the race, then reinjecting it to raise his red blood cell count, and therefore its capacity to carry oxygen. It's become a standard procedure among cyclists looking for an edge, because it's hard to detect.


Contador must have taken the transfusion on that rest day, the day before a grueling mountain stage. The clenbuterol in the sample, then, indicates that he was doping with it when the blood was initially drawn. So that's not one, but two violations.

Say hello to your 2010 Tour De France champion, Andy Schleck.

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