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Cycling News and Opinions
Unfair and Unbalanced
October, 2010

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories

October 1: This week we learned that Alberto Contador tested positive for clenbuterol during the second rest day of this year's Tour de France and Ezequiel Mosquera, who was second in the Vuelta, was found to have Hydroxyethyl starch (HES), which can be used to foil dope tests, in his system.

This week I also had a root canal on an abscessed tooth and I can't decide which has made me more miserable, the prospect of yet another Tour winner going down on dope charges or the two hours sitting in the dentist's chair while he rooted around my skull with a drill and file. Since there are pain pills for a toothache perhaps Contador's troubles are worse.

Since the amount of Clenbuterol found in Contador's system was miniscule (a picogram or about a trillionth (that 10 to the minus 11th isn't it?) of a gram, I think I'll let the guys with big foreheads and mass spectrometers sort things out before I open my yap too much and write something I'll regret later. Initially it looks like there wasn't enough found to have much of an effect upon how fast he can ride away from Luxembourg bike racers with dropped chains.

Contador has put forth an interesting explanation as to why the banned drug was coursing around his system. It might have been in a piece of meat that he ate. This isn't a totally crazy excuse. Over the years people, especially in China, have been sickened by eating Clenbuterol-contaminated meat. In parts of the world it's fed to pigs to create leaner meat. In the US it's only legal to give it to horses.

Here's why Clenbuterol is a big deal. It makes you go faster. It's a bronchodilator that opens up breathing passages, making breathing easier. But wait! There's more! It increases aerobic capacity and improves oxygen transportation. It helps the body metabolize fats and stimulates the central nervous system.

In the last day or so it appears that Contador has got even more 'splainin to do. Traces of the plastic used in blood bags have also been found in Contador's sample, which would at least hint at blood doping.

When Contador was implicated in Operation Puerto he was truculent, saying "I don't have to prove everything to everyone." I think this time around the world will demand that he indeed, prove everything to everyone.