Tuesday, October 5, 2010

More Details on Contador's Doping Tests

The NY Times reported that an anonymous source provided details about Contador's doping tests. It appears that Contador has failed several tests. The initial failure was on the evening of a rest day when a new test for blood doping that looks for a chemical called a plasticizer revealed that the Spaniard had eight times the minimum amount in his urine. This test is new and not yet validated for use. This explains why Contador may have been caught with the test as he may not have anticipated it. However, because it's not yet validated, he may challenge it in court. However, the article quoted the chief of the World Anti-Doping Agency accredited lab in Rome as saying:
“If someone has a very, very high level of plasticizers in the urine, it would be hard for that athlete to explain how that happened if not for doping. If the level is lower, it obviously would make it much harder, but it would still be possible to prove.”
 It may be that Contador's level of eight times the minimum will be hard for him to argue that he got it from the plastic bag that his friend put the tainted steak in...

The article stated that the test could be used in conjunction with other facts to build a doping case. In Contador's situation, the test may add validity to the theory that Contador got the clenbuterol from a blood transfusion. Or does it? Well, the article points out that the failed urine test for clenbuterol occurred the next day. The question I have is if he took a blood transfusion in the morning of the rest day, and the blood had clenbuterol in it, how long would it take for the clenbuterol to show up in his urine? If it's immediately, then that would give Contador some validity to his tainted filet mignon story. If it would take several hours or a day for it to travel to the urine, then, maybe not...

The article closes with some great quotes by "Bernhard Kohl, the Austrian rider who was stripped of his third-place finish at the 2008 tour for doping." I've copied them below:
“It’s impossible to win the Tour de France without doping,” said Kohl, who was in Leesburg, Va., to speak at the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s science conference. “You can tell by looking at the speed of the race. Every year it has been about 40 kilometers per hour. It’s the same the year I raced, the year Floyd Landis won, this year. It shows riders are still doping.”
Kohl, who said he retired from the sport to avoid having to think about doping every day, has no specific knowledge of Contador’s case but said most of the top riders rely on transfusions of their own blood and of designer, undetectable drugs like different types of the blood-booster EPO.
“I was tested 200 times during my career, and 100 times I had drugs in my body,” he said. “I was caught, but 99 other times, I wasn’t. Riders think they can get away with doping because most of the time they do. Even if there is a new test for blood doping, I’m not even sure it will scare riders into stopping. The problem is just that bad.”
Kohl's remarks don't give much hope for those of us who would like to see a clean pro peloton. Even so, I am holding out that the public will demand that pro cycling clean up its act. Impose stricter penalties for both teams and cyclists who dope. Increase the budgets and look harder for dopers. Penalize drug companies and doctors who help dopers. I think all these options ought to be on the table. 

Something serious needs to change! 

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