As things heat up in Alberto Contador’s doping case, officials from the Spanish rider’s entourage say they now have receipts to show to Spanish officials to back up Contador’s claims he ate contaminated Spanish beef to trigger his positive test for clenbuterol during this year’s Tour de France.
The UCI passed the case to the Spanish cycling federation Monday evening to open a disciplinary process to determine whether or not the 2010 Tour champ will receive up to a two-year racing ban.
While Contador cannot provide cuts of the beef he claims he ate the night before anti-doping controllers came calling in the Pyrenees, those close to him say he can prove it.
“The purchase (of the meat) is fully accreditated,” Contador’s press agent Jacinto Vidarte told the Spanish sports daily AS.
Vidarte said officials from Astana found the receipt and forwarded it to Contador, who will use it as it part of his defense to try to avoid a career-threatening ban and the disqualification of his 2010 Tour victory.
Contador’s camp says it was José Luis López Cerrón, the organizer of the Vuelta a Castilla y León, who bought steaks in the Basque city of Irún while traveling en route to France to visit Contador and attend a few stages of the Tour as it traversed the Pyrenees.
The steaks were allegedly passed to team chef Paco Olalla, who says he cooked them up in the team bus and served them to Contador and the other Spanish riders on Astana. Anti-doping controllers tested Contador the next morning and the results revealed minute traces of clenbuterol.
Whether or not the receipt will make much of a difference remains to be seen. Clenbuterol is not a substance found naturally in the human body, so Contador will have a stiff challenge trying to avoid a ban even if he can demonstrate that the banned substance entered his system through the contamination of food as he claims.
The four-member panel of the competition committee from Spain’s cycling federation will make the decision whether to ban Contador and strip him of his title, issue a lesser ban or support Contador’s arguments and close the case. The UCI and WADA have the legal right to challenge any decision.
Spanish officials said Tuesday they hope for quick action on the case.
Vidarte also said that Contador and his brother, Fran, who acts as Contador’s agent and manager, would refrain from commenting until Spain’s cycling federation makes a decision on the case.