The ruling against the Spanish hero came just after US federal prosecutors announced they had dropped their two-year probe of alleged doping by Lance Armstrong, a seven-time Tour winner and global cycling legend. That decision is also being criticized as politically influenced.
“You can’t go 18 months without a decision. They should redo their rules so that they can come to decisions faster,” says Don Catlin, a pioneer of antidoping efforts and one of the most prominent doctors in the field. “In the Armstrong matter it’s a heavy dose of politics. Law-and-order people and WADA thought they were going to catch him. But the government felt they didn’t have enough [evidence]....”
Ultimately, the debate is not so much over antidoping rules, but over the ample room for legal interpretation when it comes to their enforcement, as the Contador and Armstrong cases illustrate. Fans, athletes, and antidoping advocates are criticizing the global antidoping system as lacking credibility, and demanding that it be reformed.
“Everyone agrees with the rules, but these don’t say how they should be applied, unlike a regular court system,” says Fermín Morales, a law professor in the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona and a leading expert on antidoping legislation.
Contador's case ultimately landed in the CAS. The highest court for doping violations, it operates not on the usual presumption "innocent until proven guilty" but rather puts the burden of proof on the athlete to prove his or her innocence.