Day 270: Alberto Contador’s Tainted Meat and Donuts in Hell

30 09 2010

So it was a big day in the cycling world today! Alberto Contador admitted to testing positive for a steroid called clenbuterol during the Tour de France in July. Obviously this is a huge story and has been covered by many different media outlets today: CNN, USA Today and Sportsscientists.com were just a few that I read today. Here’s a quote from the CNN article:

“It is a food contamination case of which I am the victim.” He [Contador] added that the test result was due to bad meat he and several other riders had eaten the day before the test.

“When they confirmed to me what had happened the first thing I did was ask the UCI which of my fellow riders had passed the test.

“They said the only one who passed the control … was Alexandre Vinokourov. [He was the only one of the riders] who did not eat the meat on that day.”

I also saw on BikePure’s Twitter feed that a RadioShack rider, Fuyu Li, also tested positive for clenbuterol. It was unclear whether or not he also ate the “tainted meat” that the others claim is the reason for the positive sample. In addition, this USA Today article describes the grand jury testimony by physiologist Allen Lim in the Lance Armstrong investigation.

I expect that the professional cyclists in the Tour who participate in doping, far outnumber those who don’t, but does it make it right? No. And it’s sad to think that cheating is so inherent to most sports now that no one seems to really care anymore. Pro baseball players fail a drug test and they get slapped on the wrist. NFL players, same thing. It doesn’t really matter what sport. It’s just disappointing to know that the majority of them cheat.

I’m looking forward to finding out more information on the results of the UCI’s investigation into Contador.

In other news, it was weigh-in day at Weight Watchers today. I lost .8 pounds, which isn’t much, but it’s better than last week’s 2.4-pound gain. The past two weeks I’ve been frustrated and unmotivated. Actually, I’m rather tired of counting points and keeping track of everything I eat. But I’ve done a lot better cutting out candy and sweets. Now I need to work on doing the same with bread and carbs. Mmmm, bread! Reminds me of this scene from the Simpsons:

Who knew they serve donuts in Hell?! 🙂

Today’s food journal:

Breakfast:
— Whole wheat bagel thin = 1 point
— 1 Tbsp peanut butter = 2 points
— 1 banana = 1.5 points

Lunch:
— Grilled cheese sandwich on whole wheat = 7.5 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Snack:
— Apple = 1.5 points

Dinner:
— Soft pretzel = 10 points
— Iced tea = 0 points

Snack:
— Skinny Cow ice cream bar = 2 points

Life’s a journey. Enjoy the ride!

           _O
        \<,
…( ) / ( ) 

Thanks for visiting.

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9 responses

1 10 2010
Tim

Alice, the traces of clenbuterol found in Contador’s sample were minuscule. The evidence we have been presented with so far seems to support Contador’s explanation of food contamination. (There is precedent for such an explanation being accepted by CAS.)

Fuyu Li’s provisional suspension is a separate case – he also tested positive for traces of clenbuterol after a race in Belgium early in the spring.

More detail over at my blog.

1 10 2010
Alice

Thanks for the clarification, Tim. I thought Fuyu Li’s suspension was associated with the current case.

As for the miniscule amounts of clenbuterol, perhaps it really was from eating tainted meat. However, I tend to think that just because someone tests positive for a tiny amount of a banned substance (whatever the substance and whatever the sport), it doesn’t make me trust their innocence purely from that fact alone. But that’s just me. What I find so interesting is people are so quick to discount Contador’s test result as “it was the tainted meat” but they’re very quick to write off Armstrong (and others) as a doper.

Despite the fact that I’m a big Armstrong fan, do I feel with 100% certainty that he never doped? Not at all. It’s unfortunate to say, but I assume they all cheat. It’s just a matter of who gets caught and who doesn’t. But that still doesn’t make it right.

1 10 2010
Tim

No problem. It’s a very confusing issue and the reporting of the story hasn’t always been the clearest.

There is at least one precedent in the case of swimmer Jessica Hardy, who was banned in similar circumstances but later had her explanation of a contaminated food supplement accepted by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. My understanding is that clenbuterol is injected into livestock to reduce their fat content – it’s illegal in the US, and I assume also in the EU (but not sure about that). That, plus the extremely low concentration, is enough to convince me that there’s not much of a case for Contador to answer here.

You’re absolutely right about the double standards so frequently applied against Lance (and some others). He’s automatically guilty in many people’s eyes – so much for the presumption of innocence!

What this case highlights for me is how easy it is to inadvertently ingest something that could land you in very big trouble later. It makes you understand why having team chefs and carefully sourced food is a necessity, not a luxury.

1 10 2010
Alice

And another thought I forgot to mention: when the Beijing Olympics were going on (2008, I believe?) many athletes chose to have their food shipped over from their own respective countries. Why? Because some questioned the safety of the food in China. As one quote from this article (http://www.redorbit.com/news/international/1503642/chinese_official_says_food_for_beijing_olympics_perfectly_safe/index.html) states:
“Tang brushed off the worries of some countries that possible food safety problems, such as residual drugs in animal feed, could jeopardize the performance of their athletes.”

Granted, the meat Contador is blaming apparently came from his own country, but still it seems to be a convenient and flimsy excuse.

This article (http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/5846/German-journalist-claims-UCI-denied-Alberto-Contador-positive-test-says-rider-may-have-received-transfusions.aspx) from Velonation was interesting: alleged traces of a plasticizer used in blood bags were found in Contador’s sample. How’s he explaining that one?

1 10 2010
Alice

It really does bring into view the point, like you mention, Tim, how easy it is to accidentally injest something that’s on the banned list. Particularly considering the numerous pesticides, preservatives and other bizarre ingredients in foods these days. I can’t imagine how tough it must be for these elite athletes to spend their entire careers having everything so carefully scrutinized and tested 24/7. Glad it’s them and not me. They’d find nothing but junk food in my system. 🙂

1 10 2010
Tim

The Velonation article makes for depressing reading. Maybe there is something in it after all? We will have to wait and see, but what a depressing prospect.

I am 100% certain I would fail every test imaginable, although I do at least have medical prescriptions to cover things like salbutamol (which is what Petacchi got done for).

1 10 2010
Alice

Carrick just sent me an article from the New York Times discussing the Contador case: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/01/sports/cycling/01cycling.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

I didn’t realize this:
“Excluding Carlos Sastre, who won in 2008, every Tour winner dating to 1996 has either tested positive, confessed to doping or been at the center of a doping scandal.”

Apparently a Dutch scientist hired by Contador is convinced of his innocence, but an expert in clenbuterol meat contamination says his explanation is “almost impossible.”

I expect we won’t know anything certain anytime soon.

I’m curious – does organic, farm-raised beef contain clenbuterol?

1 10 2010
Tim

It shouldn’t do, unless it has been specifically injected. Given that it is known to have detrimental side effects, I can’t imagine it is legal in the EU – and like I mentioned earlier it’s definitely illegal to inject animals with it in the US (except horses, apparently).

Did the NY Times read my first blog post yesterday?!? Spooky! http://thearmchairsportsfan.com/2010/09/30/conta-dope-suspension-adds-another-chapter-to-tours-tale-of-woe/

Cyclingnews.com are saying L’Equipe are levelling the same accusations:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/lequipe-raises-new-doubts-over-contador

14 10 2010
Day 284: WADA questions Contador’s “tainted meat” excuse « Cyclingproject365

[…] indicating a blood transfusion was involved. (For previous posts mentioning this story, check here and here.) One bit of news I haven’t heard about until today, is the accusation that an […]

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