Tour de France champion Alberto Contador feels he has been “unfairly punished” by the sport’s ruling body, which has suspended him for one year for a positive doping test, his spokesman said Thursday. “He’s disappointed because he is innocent and feels he is being unfairly punished,” said Jacinto Vidarte. Contador was on Thursday at his Saxo’s team hotel in Palma, on the Spanish Balearic island of Majorca, while the rest of his teammates continued training. “He is not able to train and in this situation it does not make much sense,” Vidarte said.
The Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) on Wednesday informed Contador of its recommendation of a one-year suspension for his positive drugs test from the 2010 Tour de France. But it left it to the discretion of the three-time Tour de France champion as to whether he made it public. The 28-year-old rider has 10 days to appeal, but faces becoming only the second Tour de France champion to be stripped of his title, after American Floyd Landis in 2006.
The rider is scheduled to appear at a news conference in Palma Friday afternoon, along with the Saxo team’s technical director, Bjarne Riis. The International Cycling Union (UCI) had provisionally suspended Contador in August in advance of a decision on his immediate future by the REFC after trace amounts of clenbuterol, a banned weight loss/muscle-building drug also used to fatten cattle, were found in a urine sample taken during the Tour de France.
Contador denies any wrongdoing and says he unknowingly ingested the clenbuterol from beef brought from Spain to France during the second rest day of the Tour, just four days before he won his third title on July 25. Clenbuterol was banned by the European Union in 1996 but it is still administered illicitly by some cattle farmers.
Spanish media said Thursday the one-year ban would spare him a financial penalty as a two-year suspension would automatically force him to return 70 percent of his 2010 salary, or 3.1 million euros. It was unclear when the date of the ban would begin. The UCI on Thursday said that any action taken by the Spanish authorities should not be taken as an indication of the final fate which awaits the rider.
“To date, Alberto Contador has not received a sanction and the UCI still awaits – in accordance with the provisions of its own regulations and those of the World Anti-Doping Code – to be informed of the decision of the RFEC Disciplinary Commission that should be provided as soon as possible,” said a UCI statement. “The document that was forwarded to the UCI by the RFEC only represents one element of the disciplinary proceedings undertaken by the Spanish Federation – and upon which the rider may express an opinion before being subject to the ruling – and cannot be used for the purpose of a potential appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).”
Contador was provisionally suspended on August 24, 2010 after being informed by the UCI of his positive test. If taken from this date and suspended one year Contador would miss the Tour de France, the Tour of Italy and probably the Tour of Spain in 2011. He would also be shorn of his 2010 Tour of France title.