Tour de France champion Alberto Contador has scheduled a news conference for Thursday to address reports of an apparent positive test for the bronchodilator clenbuterol.

Contador, a three-time winner of the French national tour, apparently tested positive for the drug in tests conducted on the final day of this year’s race and was notified of the result on August 24.

According to a release issued by his publicist, Contador is scheduled to hold a press conference at noon Thursday at the Hotel Las Artes in his hometown of Pinto, Spain. Contador has assembled a group of experts who will contend that the positive test is the result of “food contamination.”

“The experts consulted so far have agreed also that this is a food contamination case, especially considering the number of tests passed by Alberto Contador during the Tour de France,” the release asserted.

Contador said that a review of data supplied by the UCI makes it “possible to define precisely both the time of the emergence of the substance as well as the tiny amount detected, ruling out any other source or intentionality.”

Clenbuterol is a synthetic bronchodilator often prescribed to asthma sufferers. It is also regarded as a stimulant and has recently been used in off-label prescriptions as a weight-loss drug akin to ephedrine. The drug is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned substances list and is specifically banned under Article 21 of the UCI’s anti-doping rules.

via Contador tests positive for clenbuterol – VeloNews.

There seems to be some discrepancy as to when the positive test occurred … the VeloNews article quoted above says it was on the last day of the race, but the article on Cyclingnews.com indicates the test was on the second rest day (July 21) … and the only indication of how much was detected is from Contador’s own release:

“The experts consulted so far have agreed also that this is a food contamination case, especially considering the number of tests passed by Alberto Contador during the Tour de France, making it possible to define precisely both the time the emergence of the substance as the tiny amount detected, ruling out any other source or intentionality.”

Regardless of intentionality, even if this does turn out to be a food contamination issue, the rules indicate that riders are responsible for all substances that enter their bodies, intentional or otherwise, and riders who have been able to prove an extreme high likelihood that their positive tests were due to contamination were still subject to bans and loss of results (cf. Scott Moninger).

This is not going to be a story that goes away anytime soon. Count on this to be ongoing for months until a final appeal to the CAS by either Contador or WADA depending on the outcome of initial findings. Contador’s only hope is that the B-sample comes up negative … but that occurs so rarely that you can pretty much count on it being positive as well.

Kind of sucks that Andy Schleck’s first Tour de France win comes like this …