The Spanish cycling federation has passed the hot potato that is the Alberto Contador doping case back to the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency.
According to a story in the Spanish daily El País, unnamed sources said that the Spanish authorities want to weigh recommendations from the UCI and WADA before handing down possible sanctions against Contador.
“The UCI and WADA took weeks in passing us the hot potato so that we could decide about Contador and we thought that it’s them who should get their fingers dirty,” the Spanish daily quoted the source. “If the UCI and WADA, after studying the documents presented by Contador’s defense, decide if there should be a sanction, we’ll sanction, if not, we won’t sanction.”
It’s an unprecedented step in the already complicated and controversial nature of Contador’s case and will cause further delays in the story dating back to last year’s Tour de France.
Contador is facing a suspension of up to two years and disqualification of his 2010 Tour victory after traces of clenbuterol were found in his system in July. Contador said the minute traces of clenbuterol entered his system after he ate contaminated meat.
Under typical protocol, it’s the respective cycling federation of an accused athlete which makes the initial recommendation whether or not a sanction would be appropriate. Later, WADA, the UCI or the athlete all can challenge the decision with an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Spanish authorities, however, seem to have taken note of public comments from several UCI and WADA officials over the past few months, suggesting that they will appeal any decision that they do not deem to be appropriate.
“With this approach, they cannot accuse us of being nationalistic,” the source continued. “And we can also shorten the process, if WADA and the UCI have already entered into an agreement with our decision, they will not appeal it to CAS.”
El País also reported that the UCI has promised a response by January 24 while WADA has not yet indicated a willingness to offer an opinion.