Experts Think Contador Innocence Possible in Clenbuterol Doping Case

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Professional cyclist Alberto Contador tested positive for clenbuterol after winning the 2010 Tour de France. Contador was caught with infinitesimally small amounts of clenbuterol that were 40 times less than the minimum standards of detection capability required by anti-doping labs accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). However, WADA has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to clenbuterol; any detected amount, no matter how small, is sufficient to impose a ban. Contador claims the clenbuterol present in his urine was the result of the consumption of meat contaminated with clenbuterol. Many experts think this is a very plausible explanation for the small amounts of clenbuterol discovered (“AP Enterprise: Bad Food Can Harm Innocent Athletes,” January 23).

“I’m very disappointed. With each passing day, I have the feeling that they (WADA) would rather have some innocent people be found guilty than have one guilty person be released,” says anti-doping expert Douwe de Boer of Contador’s defense team.

“It’s possible. That’s fact, scientifically proven. You can test positive from contaminated meat,” claims Zhao Jian of China’s Anti-Doping Agency.

“No doubt about it. That’s undisputed,” Detlef Thieme of the Institute of Doping Analysis and Sports Biochemistry (IDAS) in Germany confirms that contaminated food could be responsible for a positive clenbuterol test

“My personal opinion is that there may be a big problem which we have up to now not clearly identified and investigated,” worries Wilhelm Schaenzer of the Laboratory for Doping Analysis at the German Sports University in Cologne.

Anti-doping researchers in Cologne admit that the superfine detection of clenbuterol by their equipment may pick up clenbuterol from contaminated food sources rather than from intentional use for performance enhancement. They published a paper stating clenbuterol positive “could be due to the consumption of trace amounts present in feed or principally also in the water supply”.

Research conducted at China’s National Anti-Doping Laboratory led the China Anti-Doping Agency to warn on its website: “Our country’s anti-doping testing lab has done experiments which show that eating pork meat or pork liver containing ‘lean meat powder’  clenbuterol  can trigger a positive result.”

There will clearly be skeptics who think Contador used performance-enhancing drugs. After all, the use of erythropoietin (EPO), anabolic steroids, human growth hormone and other PEDs are pervasive in the ranks of professional cycling. Former cyclists who have been busted for doping, such as Floyd Landis and Bernhard Kohl, claims that everyone dopes.

The infamous BALCO chemist Patrick Arnold claims that the reality is that: “Everyone doped in the field of elite cycling. They still probably do, at least to whatever extent that they still can. This is reality.”


About Millard Baker