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The cycling world is buzzing with the news that Alberto Contador — three-time winner of the Tour de France, for those of you who don’t really follow pro cycling — tested positive for clenbuterol during the Tour de France last July.
Here are the basic facts, as I understand them:
- Clenbuterol is an asthsma medication, and also works as a stimulant, and has the side benefit of making you lose weight. Both WADA and UCI have it listed as a banned substance for pro cyclists.
- The sample Contador tested positive with had a tiny amount of Clenbuterol in it: 50 picograms (trillionths of a gram). To get a sense of how much that is, I googled “picture a trillion” and found a page that is very helpful: it helps you visualize a trillion by showing what a trillion dollars would look like if you stacked $100 bills on pallettes. Here’s the (ahem) money shot (to get perspective of how big this would be, note that the tiny figure in the bottom left is a man):
So fifty trillionths would be if you took one of those $100 bills from that ginormous array of pallettes of stacks of $100 bills, and made change for $50. In other words, a 50 picogram concentration of clenbuterol is an unimaginably small amount and wouldn’t — on its own merits — do Contador any good.
- The only reason Contador tested positive was because the lab his samples (both his main and backup sample tested positive) is outrageously high-tech and was able to detect levels with incredible sensitivity.
- Contador does not dispute that Clenbuterol was in his system. Instead, he claims that the way the Clenbuterol got into his system was by eating some meat that was brought in from Spain. Since — evidently — Clenbuterol is (illegally in the US, not so sure about Spain) used to make cows have more muscle mass.
Contador has given a press conference, where he strenuously denied any wrongdoing. The most awesome thing about this press conference, if you ask me, is the following photograph and caption from VeloNews :
Yes, that’s right. “Contador left the conference in a news conference.” Kudos to the crack team of journalists at VeloNews for that informative and interesting photograph and caption.
And also, is there any possible way they could have made Contador look any more like a Very Sinister James Bond Villain?
Here, let me try:
OK, I suppose it is possible.
Sorry, I’m having a hard time getting to my main point, which is this: I know exactly how to help Contador get to the bottom of this Clenbuterol-tainted-beef (or, as I’d like everyone to start referring to it, “Beefgate”) problem.
Furthermore, I’m going to make my services available to help him. Because that’s the kind of personI am.
The Simple Solution
In order for Contador to convince UCI, WADA, and the public that he really truly was a victim of an unfortunate dinner entree selection, he simply needs to show how the effect can be replicated. This can be done by following these simple steps:
- Get a cow. A really top-quality one, preferably, for reasons that will come clear in a moment.
- Inject the cow (or use an inhaler, if that’s the way it’s done, and I hope it is because that’s a hilarious image) with the amount of Clenbuterol that one might normally inject the cow with in order to achieve the desired results of better, leaner meat. Or maybe they use
- Wait the normal period of time for the Clenbuterol to do its thing.
- Slaughter and butcher the cow.
- Find someone who currently does not test positive for Clenbuterol and is willing to eat as much steak as necessary to prove a point. I — as a person who has never used asthsma medication, cannot afford to buy performance enhancing drugs, and looooves steak — will be happy to volunteer. Maybe I can get a bunch of friends to volunteer too, and we’ll fire up the grill and turn this experiment into an awesome scientific barbecue.
- Feed me the steak. Oh, you’d better give me plenty, just to make sure I’m good and contaminated.
- Test me to see if I’m all Clenbutorolized. If I’m not, you’d better give me another steak. Hey, I’m happy to help.
Of course, it’s totally possible that the first time we conduct this experiment, I may not get the cut with the Clenbuterol in it. For that reason, we’d better go ahead and get a whole bunch of cows and load them up with varying amounts of Clenbuterol.
And then, on a regular basis, you can send me different cuts, with differing amounts of Clenbuterol. Send plenty, though, because — as I believe I have mentioned — I loooove steak.
Eventually, I’m bound to pop a positive result. Alberto’s name will be cleared, and I’ll have eaten a lot of delicious beef. And with any luck, all that Clenbuterol will clear up my sinuses and help me lose some weight, too. Totally win-win.
I’m here and ready to help you get past Beefgate, Alberto. Because I’m that kind of guy.
And because I loooove steak.
PS: Yesterday, when The Runner got home from work, she said, “Guess who I saw in the hospital today with a broken leg.” I guessed Kenny first, because his bones are like balsa wood, but more brittle. Then I guessed Sunderlage, because that’s the kind of Summer he’s had. Then I guessed Mark, because he has terrible bike handling skills. Then I guessed Dug, because I kind of hoped it would be Dug.
Finally, The Runner gave up. “No,” she said, “It’s KanyonKris’s wife Jolene. She broke her leg while riding, at the top of Tibble.
For those of you (most of you, except locals) who haven’t met Jolene, she — like KanyonKris — is an incredibly nice person and a lover of bicycles. I was sad to hear of her nasty injury. Be sure to take a minute to read about her fall (here and here) and maybe drop off a note of encouragement at KanyonKris’s blog.