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Sean Hogan

My understanding is that the Cologne lab, where Contador's samples were tested, is the only lab in the world that can detect Clenbuterol to such a low concentration. Moreover, hardly any of the other cyclists in that year's TdF were tested by the Cologne lab and no substantial testing of the general population has been performed there.

If this understanding is correct then to me it sounds like there isn't enough data to say Contador's proposed explanation isn't credible.

David Littleboy

Huh? If Contador's claim (a friend imported a tainted steak into Europe) is true, then one would not expect other cyclists in the race to test positive. His story sounds fishy, but it's not numerically problematic.

Floormaster Squeeze

Actually, Contador had to be very specific about where the "friend" got the meat (near Irun, Spain). The ranch sited as the origin vehemently denies they used clenbuterol and NO tests at that ranch showed any trace of clenbuterol. Clenbuterol was actually banned in 1996 by the EU. In 2008-9 there were 83,000 tests across Europe with only 1 positive (not in Spain). 19,000 tests were done that year in Spain with ZERO clenbuterol positives.

Contrador may be "relaxed" but his canned excuse (not as well thought out as he expected) has significant holes.


Sean & David: read my piece at the Statistics Forum for more background (last link of the post). If we aspire to a test that will never issue a false positive result, there is no point in testing at all. What we do know is that with the existing testing regime, lots of dopers are not being detected.

Sean Hogan

Hi Kaiser,

I don't think anyone is suggesting Contador's result was a false positive. The question in my mind is:

Is there any data on how the general population would fare if tested for Clenbuterol by the Cologne lab?

If other labs would not have caught Contador's positive then it is irrelevant that they didn't find any positives in non-sports testing. Surely that's logical?



Sean: I don't know how the law works but for me, it's irrelevant what other labs would have caught him or not. Clenbuterol is not a naturally occurring substance in the human body. He was caught and if he did not dope, then he was extremely unlucky (see Floormaster's comment above). If we have to eliminate any chance of false accusations, then shut down the anti-doping labs already.

Floormaster Squeeze


The tests that I mentioned above were tests of meat not people (I wanted to clear that up in case as I was not clear).

Yes other labs would have caught him but there are some labs that would not have because their equipment is not as good (the Cologne labs were used, not in some conspiracy, but because they have good equipment and people). This is all moot because Contador has never contested the level of Clenbuterol (any amount is illegal in cycling) he just says it came from meat (and as I posted earlier that argument ended up being weak because 0% of Spanish tested meat that year contained Clenbuterol and meat is tested more rigorously than athletes).

I know it is nice to hang on one little fact of a case (as if it is important) but the most important thing as always in these cases is context. Kaiser is right in saying that there are mostly false negatives in athlete testing (we learn this from the confessions of athletes later) and it is the rampant false negatives that cause athletes to be sloppy (it is easy to avoid and minimize chances of detection with "expert" help).

An even more important context is WHY there was any Clenbuterol in his body during the Tour de France. Most athletes who have enough money to have "medical" help know many proven ways to avoid detection and besides masking agents and using things that leave the body quickly most "doping" is done months before while training. I doubt it would have been worth the risk to use and it has side effects. The clenbuterol, particularly the low number, is evidence of blood doping (he donated blood while in training while he was using the Clenbuterol in much higher doses).

If you follow cycling and other athletics you know no one wants to catch famous athletes doping as there is no money in it. There are a few zealous reporters against doping and the confessions of athletes who are caught/retired but the most important context is that regularity of avoiding rules as discretely as possible.

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