CAS hears Alberto Contador's appeal

LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Sport's highest court completed a four-day hearing into Alberto Contador's doping case on Thursday, and the Spanish rider now must wait until early next year to find out if he will be stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title.

Contador made a final, personal appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport panel to complete his defense that eating contaminated steak caused his positive tests for clenbuterol during his third Tour victory.

"He spoke for about 15 minutes," CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb told reporters after Contador left the court. "He took the case very seriously. He was present for all of the case and attended all the discussions."

Reeb said the three-man panel would need "six to eight weeks" to reach a verdict and explain its decision.

Contador did not comment as he left court with members of his legal team and got into a waiting taxi.

Lawyers for the International Cycling Union and World Anti-Doping Agency also declined comment.

Cycling's governing body and WADA appealed to CAS for Contador to get a two-year ban after he was cleared by a Spanish cycling federation tribunal last February.

If found guilty of doping, Contador can expect to receive a two-year ban and be stripped of his 2010 Tour win and other victories, including the 2011 Giro d'Italia. He finished fifth when defending his Tour title in July.

Contador was cross-examined Wednesday, according to reports in Spanish newspapers, which published daily updates of evidence presented in the closed-door sessions.

Spanish media also reported that the CAS panel asked for those involved in the case to stop leaking information.

About 20 witnesses were called to testify in sessions held mostly at the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne.

They included the Spanish butcher who sold the steak to a friend of Contador from his store in Irun; Louis Rovner, an American polygraph expert who performed a lie detector test on Contador; and the rider's former teammates on the Astana squad, Benjamin Noval and Paolo Tiralongo.

Expert witnesses called by WADA and the UCI included Australian scientist Michael Ashenden, who analyzed results from Contador's blood samples, and Hans Geyer from the laboratory in Cologne, Germany, that found the tiny amount of clenbuterol in his urine samples from the Tour.

WADA was expected to argue that the fat-burning, muscle-building drug was reintroduced into Contador's body July 20-21 last year by a blood transfusion, which itself would have been a doping offense.

The decision now rests with three experienced CAS arbitrators: Israeli chairman Efraim Barak, German law professor Ulrich Haas and Geneva-based lawyer Quentin Byrne-Sutton.

Contador's team nominated Haas to the panel. The UCI and WADA nominated Byrne-Sutton and the court appointed Barak.

The CAS verdict could be challenged later at Switzerland's supreme court if any party believes the legal process was abused.

"The Swiss Federal Tribunal can review the decision on procedural and formal issues, but it will not review the merits of the case," Reeb said.

The federal court has sent back three cases to CAS for review in the sports court's 27-year history.