Wada warns Contador doping case 'not finished'
There is still a long way to go in the doping case involving star cyclist Alberto Contador, the World Anti-Doping Agency warned on Tuesday.
Spain's Contador, who won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009 as well as last year, was acquitted last week in a case involving use of the banned substance clenbuterol.
Contador was suspended in September after testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug during last year's Tour, which he went on to win, although he himself blamed the test on contaminated meat.
The 28-year-old Spaniard was initially given a one-year-ban by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) last month. However, he appealed against the ban, and he was acquitted by the RFEC last week.
"(The case) is not finished," Wada director general David Howman told the German Press Agency dpa in an interview in Budapest.
Regarding Contador, Wada awaits the decision of the International Cycling Union (UCI), which is currently in charge of the case.
"Let's just wait and see," Howman stressed.
He did not rule out a joint reaction by Wada and the UCI.
"You can do it any which way," he said.
The UCI has 30 days to decide whether or not it wants to appeal the acquittal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Once the UCI makes that decision, Wada will have 21 days to make its own decision on the same issue.
New Zealand's Howman, a key man at Wada, has a conciliatory position regarding the UCI.
"Their rules are fine," Howman said. "They do more tests than most other federations."
Why then do cyclists test positive for banned substances relatively so often?
"You have to ask the cyclists," Howman stressed. "Why do they keep breaking the rules?"
He is not particularly concerned about questions being raised as to why UCI delegates decisions on doping cases to the national federation involved.
"It's the rule that they have at UCI, that every case at the first level has to be dealt with by the country where the rider is registered. That's their rule," Howman noted.
"They've got the authority to make their rules the way they wish. So long as they're in compliance with the (anti-doping) code, then that's their decision."
Howman does not support a threshold below which positive tests for substances such as clenbuterol are not considered doping.
"I think the issue is this. If you introduce a threshold, then what you might do is miss a person who has taken the substance let's say three months ago, and it's still in their body. So when they test, it's not a huge amount, it's a small amount because it's left over from three months ago."
The decision, he said, is for Wada policy-makers to take.
Howman stressed time and again that he could not address the Contador case specifically. The Spanish cyclist tested positive for just 50 picogrammes of clenbuterol, a very small amount which Contador blamed on contaminated beef.
"What level do you want us to go to to try to find that somebody's been cheating? That's a political decision, it's not my decision. At the moment we don't have a level, politically and scientifically."
"We do have a threshold for salbutamol," he noted. "You can do it."
Two years ago, Howman slammed Spanish legislation regarding doping as unhelpful for the country's chances of hosting Olympics or other major events. Madrid eventually lost to Rio de Janeiro in the bid to host the 2016 Olympics. However, Howman has since changed his mind somewhat.
"Spain has done a lot of work to ensure that their rules are in line (with Wada requirements)," he said.
"The rules (in Spain) two years ago were not as good as they are now," Howman said.
"Every country in every sport has its own issues relating to doping. But to single out one country as opposed to another is not a good idea."
Howman trusts that the recent Operation Greyhound, which focuses on Spanish track-and-field, will not disintegrate like its predecessor Operation Puerto, which was launched in 2006 and on which Wada is still trying to make progress.
"We're still in court," Howman said.
If Wada had no hope, they would give up their legal challenge, he stressed. Beyond that, however, things around doping in Spain should improve.
"At least the sharing of the information should be better."