Is Alberto Contador a Drug Cheat?
Recently it made the news that Spanish bicycle racer Alberto Contador was planning to take legal action against the unnamed sources accusing him of being a drug cheat. Currently under suspension pending investigation into his positive test for the banned substance clenbuterol at this year’s Tour de France, the racer clearly either had very bad luck or is not telling the whole truth.
This is not the first time that Contador has been dogged by drug-related allegations. In fact, these issues have dominated much of his career. The talented racer has won many major competitions along with his team, but in practically each of these cases there were whispers that something wasn’t quite right, and in a few cases, these whispers have risen to the surface.
Most significantly, Contador and five other members of his team were banned from the 2006 Tour de France for their connections with a major Spanish Doping case. Contador was cleared of wrongdoing in this particular case, but further accusations followed in the next year. In 2009, Tour de France veteran Greg LeMond argued publically that Contador couldn’t possibly have performed so well in the Tour without the help of drugs. Of course, this is just an accusation from a spectator, but in light of this year’s positive test result, the accusation seems to hold some credibility.
All of these controversies are further complicated by one additional factor: according to followers of the professional cycling scene, Contador is one of the most disliked individuals in the sport. He’s reportedly viewed as being selfish and unsportsmanlike, and he certainly didn’t earn any friends at the 2010 Tour de France when he overtook the leader Andy Schleck when Schleck was having a mechanical problem. This was a clear violation of the longstanding unwritten rule in the Tour to hold back when a leader has a temporary problem beyond his control.
With all of that being said, we do have to consider Contador innocent until proven guilty. He may have problems with his sportsmanship, but this doesn’t mean we can jump to conclusions about whether or not he is cheating. And the accusations against him are just that—accusations. Since when is that enough to establish that someone is guilty of something?
The fact is that nothing has been established with certainty. The 2010 positive test is still being investigated, and past accusations against Contador have mostly faded away without any conclusive results. It could be that he’s just suffered from bad luck, unpopularity among his fellow athletes, and the never-ending need for sports writers to have a controversial story to talk about.
So, before we all start trying the great cyclist in absentia, let’s give the International Cycling Union and sport officials a chance to figure out exactly what Contador was up to during the 2010 Tour de France. If we give in and assume he is guilty, then this will set a terrible precedent for the future of the sport. He might be guilty, but we need to know without a doubt.
And let’s not forget the high stakes when it comes to a story like this. A positive doping result involving a major athlete has important ramifications for the sport and for fans, but there’s also a man behind the controversy. This is his career. It’s how he makes a living. And if he were to be falsely found guilty of something he didn’t do, it could ruin a career that is just now reaching its peak. So let’s try to have a little restraint and allow the testing system do run its proper course.