'Not proven'? The curious case of the contaminated steak: a study of the Alberto Contador case and its implications for the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code


  • Leigh Thompson


Cycling, Doping, Contamination, Burdens of Proof, Sanctioning


Following his victory in the 2010 Tour de France, cyclist Alberto Contador was revealed to have tested positive during the race for the prohibited substance clenbuterol. As a result he faced a two-year ban from the sport. Contador claimed the positive result came from contaminated meat he had consumed but the relevant anti-doping authorities disagreed, claiming instead that Contador had deliberately ingested the substance via a contaminated blood transfusion. Ultimately Contador’s case was decided before an arbitration panel at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) which handed down a two-year ban.

This article will examine the Contador case in detail, focussing in particular on the difficulties arising from the interplay between the provisions of the 2009 World Anti-Doping Code relating to burdens and standards of proof and sanctioning. The analysis will draw primarily on the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) award – as well as other secondary sources and recent similar cases – to assess the extent to which the issues identified have been addressed in the revised 2015 World Anti-Doping Code.

The article also offers some thoughts on possible further amendments to the Code which might offer additional sanctioning flexibility in specific cases.






Articles: Doping