Tour de France champ Alberto Contador vows to challenge doping verdict (+video)
The controversial conviction of Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, together with the US decision to drop a Lance Armstrong investigation, highlights the political and legal challenges of cleaning up sport.
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But US attorney Howard Jacobs, who has made a name for himself defending athletes charged with doping, says he doesn't have a problem with athletes bearing the burden of proof. “It’s just that it has to be done on a fair way, and that is on a case by case basis.”Skip to next paragraph
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Among the cases he has taken on is that of top US swimmer Jessica Hardy, who missed the 2008 Beijing Games after testing positive for clenbuterol but was granted leniency after arguing that it came from a contaminated food supplement.
Jacobs says that in most of the cases he has dealt with, the doping was unintentional. “The athletes are so focused on their sports. Most of them don’t think [of] getting involved [in antidoping rules] until they have a problem, until they are confronted with very difficult rules that seem unfair.”
Morales says that cases like Armstrong’s and Contador’s will eventually force a revamp of anti-doping legal procedures. But he thinks any reform will not be voluntary, but rather "the result of a dispute over the jurisdiction of a case, between sporting bodies and regular courts."
Resentment in Spain
The Spanish cycling federation was the first to take up Contador's case and proposed a one-year suspension, which Contador appealed and even the government criticized. Spain unexpectedly cleared the cyclist. But WADA and UCI, which suspected manipulation, appealed the case and CAS took it up.
“It is regrettable there was some political interference at the first instance ... from Spain which inevitably led to the appeal,” WADA President John Fahey said in a statement yesterday.
Contador has always held that WADA and UCI are out to get him because of refusing to admit guilt. Spain also has a history of doping scandals, and WADA and UCI likely felt pressure to make an example out of a high-profile cyclist, Contador’s supporters argue.
Tuesday’s editorial in El País, Spain’s most-read newspaper, illustrates the unease in Contador's home country: “It appears obvious that the Contador case has been politically mismanaged. … It transmits a feeling of chaos and subjectiveness. With the same facts, one institution absolves and the other punishes with the strongest terms.”
In his press conference today, Contador highlighted that the CAS ruling concluded that any doping was unintentional. When asked if he felt he was being “persecuted,” he replied, “I don’t want to get into that because I have many years ahead” in competition. “I just hope that for the good of athletes, or sports, that [these proceedings] don’t take as long."
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