The Tour de France: the October stages

The Tour isn’t over until the UCI says it is.Contador on 5 July 2010

Alberto Contador finished the riding stages of the Tour de France on July 25, with the best time of all the competitors. Andy Schleck had the second best time.
Today, Contador’s publicist revealed that a doping test of Contador’s blood, taken on a rest day during the Tour, was positive for a banned substance.

Worse yet, the violation occurred the day before Andy Schleck attacked Contador fiercely and repeatedly on the Col du Tourmalet. Contador withstood every test, as Andy noted in that evening’s interview:

I changed rhythm and I tried everything but I think we’re on the same level on the climbs. … I tried to find out how he was feeling. You need to look at someone to see how he was coping. I think you can find out a lot if you look someone in the eyes. He didn’t have the sunglasses on today so it was possible to see, that’s why I looked so many times. But he always looked good and that’s kind of what killed me. … El Pistolero [Contador] is strong, huh? I could not drop him. He was always there. I wanted to find out if he was getting weak but he didn’t succumb. He even attacked me to show, ‘Hey, listen young boy, I’m still here! You better stop playing these games with me.’

So, wow, and…

Yay! Andy won the Tour!

Not so fast. Contador’s publicist claims that the positive test was clearly a result of contaminated steak, eaten at a hotel where the team was staying. The banned substance is sometimes used in livestock. The amount found in Contador’s sample was so small that it would have no performance-enhancing effect.

This is not much like Floyd Landis’s doping violation, which led the UCI to award the 2006 Tour de France to Óscar Pereiro. The rules, technically, have zero tolerance for banned substances. But doping sanctions are always complicated in the world of professional cycling. So are theories about doping: some people claim that the positive test could come from a blood transfusion on the rest day.

The news came out too late today to make the Luxembourgish papers — so there were no headlines reading “Andy wins!” this morning. I’m looking forward to reading the coverage tomorrow, and I’ll be sure to pass along the juicy parts to you.

1 Comment to “The Tour de France: the October stages”

  1. The Expatresse said...
    3 October 2010

    Curiouser and curiouser, isn’t it.

    I doubt Andy would want to win this way.