Here we go again. 2010 Tour de France winner Alberto Contador failed a doping test, showing traces of the banned substance clenbuterol during the Tour de France. Contador beat Andy Schleck this year by 39 seconds. He still retains the Tour title, but is currently suspended from racing while the UCI explores the case further. As much as the sport of cycling has been plagued by doping scandals, only one Tour de France winner has conclusively tested positive and been stripped of his title. That honor goes to America’s own Floyd Landis. The UCI has arguably the most aggressive dope-testing policy in any professional sport and even retirement can’t protect you from the anti-doping agency. A grand jury is currently looking into allegations that Lance Armstrong participated in some down-low super juice mojo.

As for Contador, he claims he’s the victim of food contamination, saying he ate some beef that was brought to him by a friend from Spain during a rest day on the Tour. According to Contador, the beef was injected with clenbuterol, which is a growth hormone occasionally given to livestock to make them juicier and meatier. I can hear the press engine at PETA revving up now. The levels of clenbuterol in Contador’s system were very low, but the UCI has no minimum amount of illegal substance it looks for. Any trace of dope is cause for suspension and investigation.

I really try to be an “innocent before proven guilty” kind of guy, but when it comes to the world of professional road cycling, I’m inclined to invert that equation. Regardless of Contador’s innocence or guilt, the tainted beef excuse is pretty entertaining. I’m thinking of adopting it as a blanket excuse for all failures and disappointments in my own life.  Sorry about the missed deadlines–I had some tainted beef last night. I would have won my age group in that 5K, but you know, tainted beef. I kind of thought I’d be more attractive and successful as an adult…must be all the tainted beef.

It’s quite useful. Almost as good as the “out hiking the Appalachian Trail” excuse given by South Carolina Governor Sanford’s handlers when he was actually vacationing with his not-that-hot mistress. If I interchange “tainted beef” with “I’m out hiking the Appalachian Trail,” I may never have to take responsibility for any mistakes ever again. 

But back to road racing. If it’s eventually proven that Contador’s tainted beef excuse is bogus and the skinny little biker was doping his way to the podium, I don’t think he should be stripped of his Tour victory. In fact, if Contador is guilty, I think Floyd Landis should be reinstated as the 2006 Tour Champ and the investigation into Armstrong should be stopped cold. Why? Because it’s becoming increasingly obvious that they’re all cheating. Everyone knows this; If you want to score dope, you don’t go downtown anymore, you find the nearest group road ride.

And when every competitor in a given sport is cheating, the cheating then becomes irrelevant. Are you following me? If all the bikers lined up at the start are dopers, then the fastest biker is still going to win. They’ve all cheated themselves out of any advantage. It’s a level playing field.

Disturbing, but level.