Wow. I have to say that I didn't expect this.
Confirmed: Alberto Contador Cleared of Clenbuterol Charges
Spanish fed clears Alberto Contador...
And it sounds like he's going to be on the start-line at Algarve on Wednesday.
I wonder that it turned out this way. I know that Alberto is a huge national hero in Spain and many have hailed him as the next great racer of his generation. However, in the past few years, the UCI, WADA, and other national cycling federations have really begun to clamp down on doping of any kind, seemingly intentional or not. Look at Tom Zirbel's case, if you don't believe me. The sport seems to be really trying to clean itself up. So, why apparently go "easy" on a rider, even a champion, who had a banned substance in his blood? In the past, it seems to me, regardless of intent or how the substance got into a rider's body, they got slapped with a fine and a minimum two-year suspension from rider.
So, what prompted a decision like this? The untarnished image of a champion rider never before popped for doping? The fact that he had enough money to hire lawyers and had a team around him to deflect, spin, and protect? Perhaps I'm becoming cycnical in my old age, but why should that matter? I was under the impression that the system is set up to make sure everyone gets a fair shake, am I wrong?
So, what do I think? I think the decision to drop the charges was a fair one, since no one seems to really know how the clenbuterol entered Alberto's system. But what does a decision like that say about all the other riders who have said they unknowingly ingested a banned substance and their protests of innocence went unaknowledged?
I'm glad I'm not the one making these decisions.
Until next time, ride long and keep the rubber-side down.