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Associated Press: World Anti-Doping Agency lawyers in Alberto Contador’s clenbuterol case accused the panel of Court of Arbitration for Sport judges of not being impartial during the hearing. When told the judges would not hear testimony from doping expert, Michael Ashenden, the infuriated lawyers contemplated walking out of the hearing in protest.
The three-time Tour de France winner has been awaiting a final ruling from a CAS panel for testing positive for the performance enhancing drug, clenbuterol, after having been cleared by Spanish authorities. The CAS panel will soon decide if Contador should be banned from competition for two years.
Hearing participants spoke to Associated Press anonymously in the hopes that the information they shared would not impact the ruling. They told Associated Press that Ashenden’s testimony would have provided valuable information backing the theory that Contador received a blood transfusion and a blood plasma injection before the doping tests in question.
Contador’s first suspicious test revealed traces of DEHP, plastic residue present in transfusion tubing and blood bags. Ashenden’s testimony would have explained why the DEHP may have been from bags allegedly used for blood transfusions administered to Contador on July 20. Contador’s test the following day was positive for clenbuterol, but contained no plastic. Ashenden was prepared to argue that this suggested he may have had an injection of blood plasma which would have diluted high red blood cell counts that would have raised red flags in tests.
According to Associated Press, before hearing Ashenden’s testimony, Contador’s lawyers argued that he could not have had a blood transfusion because if he had, both clenbuterol and the plastic residues would have been present in the samples taken both days that Contador’s tests were suspicious.
After that point, Contador’s lawyers called an expert on DEHP. According to Associated Press, the plastics expert argued that the residue could have come from “drinking from a plastic bottle, through a plastic straw or from other sources which had nothing to do with doping.” This testimony prompted the panel to empty the chamber. When WADA lawyers returned to the chamber, they were informed Ashenden’s testimony would not be heard. ”At that point, they seriously were on a knife edge,” an anonymous participant told Associated Press.
The WADA and International Cycling Union lawyers have not been the only parties expressing concern about how impartial the CAS judges would be. Last week, RadioShack-Nissan-Trek founder Flavio Becca publicly questioned the motives behind Contador’s team, Saxo Bank, holding a training camp in Israel when one of Contador’s judges, chairperson Efraim Barak, is Israeli. The WADA lawyers have also expressed concern directly to CAS about Barak’s recent travel to Spain, where Contador is from, to present at conferences.
The unheard testimony could be grounds for a challenge in Swiss civil court, but in the unlikely event that the court did review the CAS decision, it would not rehear Contador’s case.
The final ruling is expected this week, but El Mundo announced Tuesday that the panel was expected to take longer with their decision.