This may seem a bit behind the times, since the Contador suspension news cycle has long since passed. Still there is something here for us to consider. Here in the states, popular opinion holds that Contador is a doping cheat, who raced on Pro Team Astana with Lance during his comeback year. The internal team battle during the 2009 Tour de France is documented in Bill Strickland’s excellent Tour de Lance.
For those not following at home, Contador failed a doping control on rest day during the 2010 Tour. A Tour that he won by a scant 39 seconds. Which happens to be the amount of time runner up Andy Shcleck lost due to a dropped chain. Contador maintained his innocence through the entire, often delayed proceedings claiming that his positive was due to contaminated beef. That’s the short version.
This view, that El Pistolero is cheat is one that i held from moment his positive for Clenbuterol was reported. I’ve changed my mind. Here’s why.
I don’t think Alberto cheated. Which is different than saying he’s not guilty. He is guilty, and the fact that it took so long to finally suspend him is just one of the many problems with the whole system. In order to cheat you have to make a conscious decision to defraud your fellow competitors. WADA and the UCI successfully showed that Contador’s positive did not come from bad beef. But owing to the miniscule amounts in his system it likely that the Clenbuterol entered his system through tainted supplements . In other words, I believe he unwittingly allowed a banned substance to enter his system.
However, as I stated above, he is still guilty. According to the UCI the athlete is responsible for what enters their body. He wasn’t careful about what he was taking and this is the price he pays. I don’t expect this to be a popular view, but its one I hold. The truth remains that Contador is a a FUCKING FANTASTIC rider, who’s ability to suffer for what he wants is to be admired.
It should also be noted that Contador has avoided the typical rig-a-ma-roll, of the doper. Which includes declaring your innocence, writing a book a testing to the “facts”, taking people’s money to continue your own self delusion. All before coming clean and claiming that the sport can’t be fixed. Or by using the specter of costly legal fees and claims of “I’ve never been found positive”, which is different than saying “I didn’t cheat”.
In the aftermath I’m sure that Alberto Contador will pass Armstrong as the “most tested athlete” (which isn’t true by the way). I won’t go as far to call Contador a “Great Champion”, he’ll have to rack up a few Monuments to earn that title. Still, he is the best Grand Tour rider of this generation. Like or not, his CLEAN, dominance of last year’s Giro and subsequent lack of “pop” during the tour stands as a testament to that.
Want to punch me in face for insinuating that Lance doped?
Feel free to leave a CIVIL comment.