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August 8, 2022

Contador suspended for “adverse” test result

GEELONG, Australia – Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has been provisionally suspended for returning an “adverse analytical finding” of clenbuterol from a urine sample taken during the race, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said on Thursday.

The Spaniard, who won his third Tour 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. Contador blamed food contamination for the finding.

“It’s possible to put your hand in the fire and not burn yourself. If it had been a clear case of doping it would have come out a week later. The food poisoning came from a cut of meat from Spain,” Contador told Spanish radio station Cadena Cope. Clenbuterol can be abused by athletes to strip fat and enhance muscle size and can have short-term stimulant effects including increasing aerobic capacity, blood pressure and alertness. It has led to bans for cyclists in the past.

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. The finding puts 27-year-old Contador’s Tour de France victory with Kazakh-funded Astana in July under a cloud and threatens to leave an indelible stain on the Spaniard, who also won the 2007 and 2009 Tours and is regarded one of the greatest cyclists of the modern era. 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.

Australia’s road world champion Cadel Evans, who will bid to defend his title on Sunday, reserved judgement. “I will wait until final analysis is completed before I form an opinion,” he said in a statement through the Australian team. (Reuters)

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