Tour de France - Contador banned for two years

Mon, 06 Feb 15:30:00 2012

Alberto Contador lost one of his three Tour de France titles after being banned for two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday for failing a dope test during the 2010 race.

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Contador, the Tour winner in 2007, 2009 and 2010 who tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol, also faces losing his 2011 Giro d'Italia title and all the other victories he claimed last season.

"Mr. Contador is disqualified from the Tour de France 2010 with all the resulting consequences including forfeiture of any medals, points and prize," CAS said in their reasons explaining their verdict.

Contador, who has 30 days to appeal to the Swiss federal court, is to hold a news conference on either Tuesday or Wednesday.

The Spaniard's Tour title will be handed to Luxembourg's Andy Schleck, with Russia's Denis Menchov and Samuel Sanchez of Spain promoted to second and third respectively.

"There is no reason to be happy now", Schleck said in a statement. "First of all I feel sad for Alberto. I always believed in his innocence. This is just a very sad day for cycling. The only positive news is that there is a verdict after 566 days of uncertainty. We can finally move on.

"I battled with Contador in that race and I lost. My goal is to win the Tour de France in a sporting way, being the best of all competitors, not in court. If I succeed this year, I will consider it as my first Tour victory."

Italy's Michele Scarponi is set to take the Giro 2011 title.

"Alberto Contador is sanctioned with a two-year period of ineligibility starting retroactively on 25 January 2011, minus the period of provisional suspension served in 2010-2011 (5 months and 19 days)," CAS said in a statement.

"The suspension should therefore come to an end on 5 August 2012."

The ban means that the 29-year-old Contador, who had threatened to end his career if found guilty, will miss this year's Tour de France and the London Olympic Games.

News : Contador fail

"In rejecting the defence argument, in particular that the presence of clenbuterol in Alberto Contador's urine sample came from the consumption of contaminated meat, today's ruling confirms the UCI's position," the International Cycling Union, who had appealed with the World Anti-Doping Agency against the Spanish federation's decision to clear Contador, said in a statement.

Spanish cycling federation president Juan Carlos Castano said of the CAS decision: "We are obliged to comply with it but we don't agree with it.

"It's very bad news for Spanish sport," he said on national radio. "For us this journey has ended."

CAS said they did not believe Contador's argument that he had eaten contaminated meat during a Tour de France rest day.

"Unlike certain other countries, notably outside Europe, Spain is not known to have a contamination problem with clenbuterol in meat," it said, adding that the burden of proof was on Contador and that the ingestion of a contaminated food supplement was more likely than the contaminated meat argument.

UCI President Pat McQuaid said: "This is a sad day for our sport. Some may think of it as a victory, but that is not at all the case. There are no winners when it comes to the issue of doping: every case, irrespective of its characteristics, is always a case too many."

Contador, who had awaited his fate at his home in Pinto with his family and lawyers, is now expected back to competition on Aug. 6, meaning he should be able to take part in the Vuelta, which starts on Aug. 18.

Spain's Oscar Pereiro was the last rider to be awarded a Tour victory after the race winner lost his title for failing a dope test, in 2006 when American Floyd Landis was stripped of his title following a positive test for testosterone.

Contador, one of only five men with titles in all three Grands Tours, is widely regarded as the greatest cyclists of his generation.

His climbing abilities have made him almost invincible in the three-week stage races, although he finished only fifth in last year's Tour following a troubled preparation and because of a sore knee.

Contador started his career under the guidance of fellow Spaniard Manolo Saiz, a man he considers a second father, who was arrested in 2006 in the Operation Puerto blood-doping scandal.

He joined the Discovery Channel team in 2007, claiming his maiden Tour title under Johan Bruyneel - the man behind American Lance Armstrong's record seven triumphs.

That year he was questioned about his possible involvement in the Puerto affair after media reports said his name had appeared in files of the investigation.

Contador strongly denied any involvement and was never formally charged. The following year he could not defend his Tour title after Astana were banned from the race because of their doping record.

However, he won the Giro and the Vuelta to become only the fifth rider to win in all three grands Tours. Contador went on to win the Tour in 2009 and again the following year but the failed doping test turned his world upside down.

Reuters

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