Like many in the cycling world Philip Gomes remains puzzled by the entire Alberto Contador debacle.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM


Anyone who is found by a tribunal in a matter in which he was found to be a cheat, is a cheat.
So goes the statement
by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) supremo John Fahey in response to
the finding by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that Alberto
Contador did indeed have a banned substance in his system in late July
2010.

But of course the word "cheat", used by Fahey, flies in the
face of the actual judgement issued by the CAS, which determined that
Contador did not cheat but was the victim of an accidental ingestion of a
banned substance.

In the Panel's opinion, on the basis of the evidence adduced, the presence of Clenbuterol was more likely caused by the ingestion of a contaminated food supplement.

There it is in
black and white. True, the panel ruled out Contador's bovine source but
it also ruled out a transfusion, an idea much loved by tin foil hat
wearing plasticiser conspiracy theorists out there on the internets.

Clearly the WADA boss and former Premier of New South Wales didn't read the judgement.

So
digest this for a second (pun intended). The final arbiter, the highest
court in sport with all the information available to it, supplied by
all sides - the International Cycling Union (UCI), Contador and WADA -
found that Contador's positive was an accident.

Yes it is true
that Contador had clenbuterol in his system, something not even he
denies, but how that eventuated became the important question.

So,
like many interested observers out there, I spent the darkened hours of
Tuesday morning wading through the documentation supplied by the CAS
(all 7.4MB and 98 pages of it) looking for proof Alberto Contador was a
cheat. I found none.

I was searching to see if El Pistolero's
trademark smoking gun had been turned against him, but what was presented
was essentially summed up in the synopsis. This generation's best Grand
Tour rider was guilty of nothing except taking an unfortunate bite out
of something that ended up giving everyone in the sport 18 months of
extreme indigestion.

And no one seemed to be happy with the outcome, not the UCI, not the 2010 Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck and certainly not Contador.

Yet in fan comments all across the globe (with the exception of Spain) and here on Cycling Central, Alberto Contador was as Fahey described, a cheat.

This
is a disconnect I'm trying to pull apart as I sit here writing this.
Why? Don't cycling fans read? Or are they only interested in seeing what
they want to see?

Like Lance Armstrong before him there is no
clear proof that Contador is a cheat (if you indignant readers have any
actual proof send it to me, I'll pass it on to the relevant
authorities), so why the hate out there for Contador? Why the gloating?
Why the "hang him high" rhetoric?

I reckon it goes back to
another fateful moment in July 2010, one where the gentle Andy Schleck
had his pony taken away from him so cynically by Contador in the
infamous "Chaingate" incident during Stage 15 of the Tour de France.

But even there most
reasonable observers reckoned Contador did nothing wrong, yet the fans
persisted. "He cheated," they howled on Twitter, Facebook, forums and
websites across the globe.

That Contador is the best Grand Tour
rider of his generation is obvious. Like Armstrong, Contador beats
everyone like a drum, smashes them, chews them up and spits them out
then points his finger into the camera as he crosses the finish line and
goes, "BANG".

So it seems the price someone that good must pay in
the post-Armstrong era is that he can only be a cheat if he comes
close to replicating what Armstrong did.

I await August and the Vuelta a Espana with interest.