September 29, 2010
Hours after a member of Lance Armstrong's staff testified in front of a federal grand jury about doping in professional cycling, a spokesman for reigning Tour de France champion Alberto Contador announced that the rider failed a drug test on the final day of the prestigious bicycle race.
Contador, a three-time Tour champion, tested positive for bronchodilator clenbuterol, a synthetic breathing drug often prescribed to asthma sufferers. He has called a press conference for Thursday where he plans to blame the positive test on "food contamination." The 27-year old faces a two-year ban if the test is upheld.
The International Cycling Union confirmed the positive test late Wednesday night. In a statement, the UCI said Contador had a "very small concentration" of the drug in his system and that futher scientific investigation was needed to confirm the test. (Why should it matter if there was a trace amount of the drug in his system. If it's enough to trigger a positive test, that's all that matters.)
Earlier Wednesday in Los Angeles, a staff member on Armstrong's Team Radioshack testified before a grand jury that is hearing evidence on the ongoing doping probe that has centered on the American cycling star. Allen Lim, an exercise physiologist, has ties to both Armstrong and disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis. Earlier this year, Landis accused Lim of helping him cheat during his career.
The Contador drug test now leaves Carlos Sastre as the only Tour winner this century not to have been fingered in a major doping scandal.
The "cyclist tests positive" stories have become so commonplace in recent years that they're developing a "dog bites man" sort of feel. At this point, it'd be more surprising if it was revealed that a top cyclist was clean. This isn't going to change. Testers can't search for something they don't know exists, so as long as the dopers continue to come up with new methods of performance enhancing, the cheaters will always prosper.