Lots of comments on my last post regarding Contador. I realized in reading them that I should have started out differently, by clarifying that of course the best outcome for him would have been an acquittal and zero months banned. But the way the rules are written, that’s just not really in the cards. If a substance is in your body, you’re guilty unless you can prove it got there inadvertently. That’s difficult to do, and so the athlete is usually banned for 2 years (Mexican soccer players notwithstanding, but Spain isn’t Mexico and cycling isn’t soccer).
Therefore, if the usual outcome is a 2 year ban, being deprived of income for only 7 months is a victory relatively speaking. Just compare it to Ullrich. He got a 2 year ban this year as well, he also got a year and a half of results stricken from the books, but unlike Contador the period for which his results were stricken was not deducted from the 2 years. Instead, his ban started retroactively in August 2011, long after he had retired but it means that he still has 18 months of ban left. Of course, that’s not as bad for him as 7 months are for Contador, but it’s odd how the calculation method for these two cases can be so different. There’s a third dimension to CAS’ calculation of Contador’s ban length, which I will cover next time.
Some of you thought my post indicated I think Contador is guilty. To be honest, that question is not that interesting to me, because other than Contador himself and some of his inner circle, nobody really knows. I spoke with one of his inner circlers last year who was sure Contador was innocent (and this is not a Contador groupie), on the other side I don’t buy the beef story. That leaves the contaminated supplement option, but that’s tough too. As Cancellara commented, any top rider has their supplements tested to avoid contamination, a consumate pro like Contador would not take something willy-nilly (and athletes who are that careless can expect to eventually test positive).
So who knows, all we know is that the substance was in his body and his explanations were not sufficient to reach the level of doubt required under the rules. It’s OK to blame the rules, but it’s a lot harder to blame the judges for how they applied the rules. And the rules won’t change too quickly when the only athletes who really care are the ones who’ve been caught.