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Failed drug test or not, looks like Alberto Contador can ride Tour de France

May 31, 2011 | 12:10 pm

About a two months after Alberto Contador won the 2010 Tour de France -- his third -- the UCI, the international governing body for cycling, announced that Contador had failed a drug test. He had traces of the anabolic agent clenbuterol in his system. Contador, of Spain, has argued ever since that the clenbuterol got into his system because he ate tainted meat.

There seemed to be no gray area. The sport's rules don't allow for accidental ingestion of clenbuterol, but the appeals process has been lengthy and the court of first appeal, the Spanish cycling federation, believed Contador's explanation and cleared the rider.

The UCI rejected the Spanish federation's decision and now Contador's case will be heard in front of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). That hearing was scheduled for this month and would have allowed for a decision before the 2011 Tour de France. But on Monday, WADA postponed the hearing until August.

So it seems Contador will be eligible to defend his Tour de France title, even though he has a failed drug test from his 2010 victory.

Even Contador seemed to have been pessimistic about competing at the Tour de France this year. On Sunday, he completed the grueling three-week Giro d'Italia by winning it. Most serious contenders for the Tour de France don't compete in the Giro or complete it at a high enough level to win.

Contador's predecessor as the dominator of the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong, is under a federal investigation for illegal doping during the time he won seven straight Tour titles.


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Photo: Alberto Contador of team Astana celebrates victory on the podium after the final stage of the 2010 Tour de France 2010. Credit: Bryn Lennon / Getty Images