So the verdict is in after 18 months and Contador is banned for two years. Therefore the big winner of the whole procedure is Alberto Contador, with Team Saxobank and Saxobank itself a close second. Why?
Because even though his ban is for 24 months, he only has to sit out another 7 months before he can race again. That’s because the ban is effective from more or less when the test first revealed the offense. True, Contador loses all his results and maybe the prize money for the prior 17 months, but that’s peanuts compared to his salary and his endorsement deals, all of which will have been paid out until now. So in effect he doesn’t lose 24 months, but 7 months of income and 24 months of results. Of course having the pressure of the process on your shoulders for 17 months is no laughing matter and also part of the price he pays.
Second winner is Team Saxobank. There may still be a small scare about losing their WorldTour license, but normally speaking their connections are good enough to avoid that. And even if they can’t, they still win. Without Contador, they would have lost that license a year ago, so instead they squeezed another year of revenue out of the system. And of course for Saxobank, you can’t undo the exposure Contador gave them, or the contracts signed with business relations wined and dined at the Tour de France. That’s all in the bank, so to speak.