The Story of Some Spanish Positives

Sep 30 2010

Anti-Doping Control Room SignJeez, why can’t people get caught doping with anything normal anymore? I don’t particularly trust Joe Papp, but as far as assessing the effects of performance-enhancing substances go, I’m more than willing to defer to his expertise.

Despite my own initial response, Contador’s statement that his Clenbuterol positive was the result of contaminated food certainly seems to have legs. The drug’s primary performance enhancing effect is largely fat management, something the still-three-time Tour winner has never struggled with.

Cases of Clenbuterol contamination among the food supply are well documented, and the amount detected is so small that Contador’s B sample might just come up clear, avoiding what will almost certainly be a messy, protracted legal dispute about what should count as a positive test, and what should qualify one for the Nazi Frogmen exemption.

And frankly, I hope that’s how it turns out. Anti-doping efforts have come a long way since another Spanish Tour champion, Pedro Delgado, tested positive for a not-yet-banned substance with an obvious PED-masking effect and was allowed to continue without sanction. If what’s reported on this case is true, Contador’s A-sample turns that scenario fully on its head, and hopefully, the system’s mechanisms for fairness will prove as effective (at least in this instance) as the mechanisms for detection.

I’m also impressed with how well Contador has presented himself in the face of this scrutiny, especially given his lousy media relations in the past. Granted, he’s had over a month to go over how to confront the issue, but, assuming his statements are true, it’s tough to imagine a more gut-wrenching twist for a rider who missed a Tour when his DS was caught in a dope doctor’s office with 50,000 EUR straight cash, was gifted his first Tour win the next year through an extra-judicial doping ejection, was arbitrarily denied a start 12 months later, and essentially raced alone against the entire peloton when the biggest celebrity in the history of cycling hijacked his team the following year.

Conversely, one has to wonder how another Spaniard, Ezequiel Mosquera, will handle news that he and a teammate have tested positive for a decidedly more effective chemical agent. Mosquera, who’s workman-turned-rockstar ascension was the story of this year’s Vuelta, now has to overcome the equally compelling narrative of a hard-worn rider at the end of his career crossing the line to try and maximize his chances in chasing down that one big win.

Media attention can be quite the double-edged sword in that regard, something Mosquera’s would-be employer just can’t seem to get its head around—unless, of course, Vacansoleil is trying to imply a little something about what’s included in the luxury camping trips it’s trying to advertize..

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24 Responses to “The Story of Some Spanish Positives”

  1. James September 30, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    Food contamination is possible. But everybody seems to ignore the possibility of tainted blood bags.

    Even Landis still claims he has no idea what caused his positive for testosterone. But fully acknowledges blood doping throughout his career. There is only one logical explanation, during le tour he re-infused with blood that he had taken out at an earlier time when he was also on testosterone patches (or similar).

    Sure, this case might be food contamination, but image that a few of Contador’s fresh and clean blood bags went bad, he was forced to grab a couple from the back of the fridge to get through le Tour. Maybe they are a few years old, when he was not as careful about these things.

    Entirely possible in my opinion.

  2. cthulhu September 30, 2010 at 2:17 pm #

    I don’t know. The amount is much lower than the standards require. So he could be micro-dosing for some time and stayed that way as thin as he is without being noticed. So, I won’t dismiss the possibility of him being clean and the meat story true, but the argument it’s unlikely he would take something to get/stay lean because he already is is very questionable.
    I mean it’s hard to imagine a fat Schleck but if you are so fragile like those guys every gram too much is a disaster. I guess this goes for AC too. And as these payments from Fränk Schleck for Fuentes (iirc or was it Ferrari?) for some “training plans” he didn’t use in the end was a topic in the media there were rumors going around the payments were for some banned hunger blockers.

  3. seth September 30, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    Contador’s B sample did come up positive.

    from WSJ:

    Mr. Vidarte says that Mr. Contador’s second sample, known as the “B” sample, has also registered positive for clenbuterol.

  4. Jan September 30, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    I’m from Germany and despite this may not fit the topic 100%, I still think that whatever the outcome of this whole story, it has shown a lot about German media already. Even Eurosport, who usually have the best German TV coverage of cycling in both quality and quantity, has not a single article about the time trial earlier today on the cycling part of their website, just stuff about Contador: background info, comments, pictures etc. They even had a live-stream of the press conference he gave – a TV station that failed to show a single minute of live action from the Worlds.

    This continues through all other media, basically – Contador’s positive test fills pages and dominates the headlines, the time trial results (and mind you, Germany is the only country to win a medal in each of the three TTs, so even if none of them was Gold I think it’s well worth reporting about) are small side notes at best.

    This just shows why cycling’s future in Germany is as bad as it seems to be… despite we still have some good talent, but here they are not going to get the recognition they deserve. I’m not telling anything new here, most of it has been said in the post “Deutschland reaps the doping dividends” and the comments to that – it’s just that this day was the most drastic example to date on how the German media attention centres around all the wrong subjects.

  5. cthulhu September 30, 2010 at 6:24 pm #

    Jan, I totally agree with you about the German media and their presentation and reporting about cycling.
    But have you seen the interview with Seppelt? In that much less than attacking Contador because he doped he attacks UCI and their way to handle information and not even stick to their own rules. And that is for once a good thing, because we seriously need some change there and in the BDR aswell for the sake of the sport and maybe better perception by the German media and public as well.

  6. Max September 30, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    I find it highly doubtfull that AC would chose to dope in this fashion. It makes little sense. The amount of the substance found is minimal.

    I’m very sadend to see his reputaiton go down the drain within a matter of hours. Its just a sad state of affairs. I’m shocked.

  7. Joe September 30, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    Cosmo, I think you are forgetting the fact that the minute amounts of Clenbuterol found in AC’s samples could indicate blood doping. we know A.C . has been linked with Blood doping especially with his link with manolo saiz. Don’t you remember the blood bags with his code name on them in 2006? It seems interesting that a lot of his mates involved with puerto have been caught with drugs or doping in the future.

    Everyone seems to always stick up for Contador anyway. He’ll get off especially with the corrupt spanish authorities involved.

  8. Oliver September 30, 2010 at 8:28 pm #

    What’s with this wishful thinking about a clean B sample, when one has already come out!?
    Sadly I detected not a small amount of Kool-Aid in this post.
    Condator is a victim, yeah! And today’s Spain is not to pro-sports what the RDA was to amateur sports in the 70′s and 80′s. Have another swig, and pretty soon, we’ll be reading that it was all a conspiracy….
    Good grief!

  9. Zlatko October 1, 2010 at 8:18 am #

    I have one problem with blood doping teory – wouldn’t it show on biological passport?

  10. Joe October 1, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    Blood passport is not done during races and riders know how to get around being caught on the blood passport. Blood levels have too many variables when tested after races as things like dehydration alters levels.

  11. Sean October 1, 2010 at 9:01 am #

    Hi Cosmo,

    Not that my opinion counts for anything, but food contamination seems reasonable to me. However, maybe he can’t avoid suspension altogether.

    I assume Contador wouldn’t be racing again until next March. If he received a slap-on-the-wrist suspension of six months that wouldn’t impact his calendar at all.

    Is this likely? And can he receive a suspension without being stripped of the 2010 Tour de France?

  12. joepappillon October 1, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    Just to clarify, while I stand by my comments that clenbuterol is a horrible drug for cyclists seeking performance enhancement, that’s not to say that it isn’t used in cycling. After all, I was a cyclist, and I used it. I just think/know that there are drugs better suited for the applications that Clen might be chosen for.

    And as for tainted blood bags, I hate to say it, but that’s probably what happened. The science that allows for the identification of the molecules in urine that indicate indirectly the transfusion is very solid and environmental “contamination”/ingestion (the famous “dirty water bottle” lol) is a stretch.

    I’m averting my eyes and neither defending nor accusing AC or AS b/c even I can’t stand to see cycling rocked to the foundation again, so soon.

  13. Lance October 2, 2010 at 12:55 am #

    couldn’t di(2-ethylhexyl) come from his water bottles?

  14. Zlatko October 2, 2010 at 3:01 am #

    @joe – i’m no expert but i understood that the point of blood transfusions is to get fresh blood with higher hematocrit – and there should be a spike in his values day after transfusion, no?

  15. cthulhu October 2, 2010 at 3:58 am #

    @Zlatko: that is why they use the stuff Mosquera got busted for or other plasma expanders

  16. DJ October 3, 2010 at 5:06 am #

    just one comment about the professional handling by AC – apparently Bjarne Riis heard the news only when it came out to the rest of the world, not in August when AC was informed…
    I think the tainted food story has credibility. AC tests positive at a very low value (way below the amount an anti-doping lab should be able to detect), and only on one day during a very test-intensive period. Therefore it’s very unlikely that he was taking clenbuterol at that time. The tainted blood bag story may also have some legs, but that is not what was tested for or what AC is accused of having done by WADA/UCI. Unfortunately there are still many riders caught who are obviously in the wrong (just imagine what would have happened if Nibali had not defended his jersey so valiantly on the penultimate day of the Vuelta); it would be better to stick to reasonable doubt when there is cause for it.

  17. M. Chavendish October 3, 2010 at 4:12 pm #

    Worlds. How the race was won. Do it. Please?

  18. Joe October 3, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

    @M .Chavendish, it was won in a mini bunch sprint!

  19. WheresTheBeef October 4, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    There’s reports of plasticizer (from IV bags) found in his blood samples too. So, if true, it can be quite easily explained as being from autologous blood doping.

    Secondly, when people consider how little clen was found in him – it’s almost identical to the amount found in Li Fuyu who was defended by the same people defending Contador now (notably Douwe de Boer). In Fuyu’s case, their claim was food “Contamination”. What did he say about it?
    “I have no idea how the Clenbuterol came into my body.
    All I know is that I have never taken doping in my entire
    career.”

    Sound like someone else? How did it go for Fuyu = 2 year suspension.

    Here’s the bottom line…It’s a banned substance at any level (even a small amount). As Boer said in the Fuyu situation, “Despite providing a possible scenario for Li’s positive test, De Boer said it would be difficult to determine exactly how the drug had entered his system.”

    Why should Contador be treated any differently? Yep, I know…he’s Contador.

    Hey, anyone check to see if the UCI has received any new donations? Yep, lot to learn…

  20. Oliver October 4, 2010 at 6:27 am #

    In re. post #19: how about asking if anyone checked if cyclocosm received any donations? (!) Didn’t see any posts expressing doubts about Li Fuyu’s positive tests for minutes amount of Clenbuterol in his blood, nor did I read about the outrage provoked by his “by the books” two year suspension….

  21. rainbow October 4, 2010 at 6:18 pm #

    WAS IT HOMEOPATHIC DOPING?

  22. Osteo July 12, 2011 at 3:04 am #

    Bllod bag + old clen + plasticizers = Contaminated Meat.. Makes sense to me. NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Oliver September 6, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    Everyone seems to always stick up for Contador anyway. He’ll get off especially with the corrupt spanish authorities involved.

  24. cycling jerseys September 8, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    I guess this goes for AC too.Maybe they are a few years old, when he was not as careful about these things.

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