Cycling-Tough nut Contador focusing on the Tour, not doping case

Reuters

Thu, 30 Jun 14:08:00 2011

The "ridiculous" possibility that he could soon be stripped of two of his Tour de France titles will not deter Alberto Contador from seeking a fourth victory in the race, the Spaniard said on Thursday.

The 28-year-old, who tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol in last year's Tour, was cleared by the Spanish federation earlier this year only for the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to appeal the decision before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

A ruling is expected in early August, but Contador, who also won the Giro d'Italia this season, is keeping his mind firmly focused on the Tour which starts on Saturday.

"It would be totally ridiculous that they take my victory away from me," Contador, who has said the positive test came after he ate contaminated meat, told a news conference in front of some 200 reporters.

"We know the Tour de France is the race where you have the most pressure on your shoulders, just look at how many journalists are here.

"Of course there's not pressure only on the road but also off, especially recently. I'm aware of that but what's important is to focus on the race, to keep my goal in mind."

Speaking to Reuters by the SaxoBank Sungard team bus, his brother Fran said Contador would not be distracted from his goal.

"He is cool. He is a tough nut to crack. He has the experience of this kind of situation," he said.

'RESPECT RULES'

Contador is used to pressure off the road during the Tour.

In 2007, he was repeatedly grilled by the media on an alleged link to the Operation Puerto doping scandal, but that did not prevent him from winning his first Tour. He strongly denied any involvement and was never charged.

In 2009, Contador survived pressure from Lance Armstrong within his Astana team to bag a second Tour title. Last year, the slender Spaniard also faced media and crowd pressure after he took advantage of an Andy Schleck mechanical problem to claim the yellow jersey.

Team boss Bjarne Riis implored reporters and fans alike to abide by the rules and let his rider do his job.

"I'm pretty sure there will be a lot of questions about Alberto riding this Tour de France," he told a news conference.

"It's a question we've had the whole year and it will come up again and again. Everybody would love to have a solution a while ago but that has not happened.

"We have to respect the rules and we can't actually do anything about it. The system works like that and we have to respect it as it is. Alberto was cleared by the cycling system -- as long as he's cleared we'll continue to support him.

"I beg you all to understand this. If you don't agree with Alberto riding the Tour, you should question the system."

Please double-click on the following newslink

for more cycling news

 

Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account