Contador rejects call that he accept one-year ban

By AFP | Tuesday, February 8, 2011 12.25pm

Three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, who is facing a one-year ban for taking performance enhancing drugs, on Monday rejected calls that he accept the ban instead of fighting it.

Last week Astana cycling team manager Giuseppe Martinelli said the Spanish rider, who was provisionally suspended from the team after failing a drugs test on the 2010 Tour said Contador "must accept the ban and start again".

"There are times when you have to make a choice. Either you bash yourself against a rubber wall, or you find the courage to start again," he told the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Martinelli stressed that he believes the 28-year-old is "clean" but he pointed out that the year-long ban would expire at the end of August and said: "That's not too long".

Last month the Spanish cycling federation proposed Contador get a one-year ban for his positive test for the banned muscle-building and fat-burning drug clenbuterol which he has vowed to appeal.

The rider denies any wrongdoing and says he unknowingly ingested trace elements of clenbuterol from beef brought from Spain to France during the second rest day of the Tour.

Asked about Martinelli's comments during an interview with Spanish public radio on Monday, Contador said: "Why should I accept a one-year ban if I did absolutely nothing? It sincerely does not seem like the right step."

The reduced ban, instead of the standard two-year penalty, would still leave Contador stripped of the 2010 Tour title, which would make him only the third Tour de France champion to be stripped of his title, after American Floyd Landis in 2006 and Frenchman Maurice Garin in 1904.

It would also keep him off the starting line of this year's race as well as the Spanish Vuelta.

Contador, who joined Bjarne Riis's Team Saxo Bank on a two-year deal after leaving the Astana team just after the 2010 Tour, had said he would retire if he was slapped with a ban. But he said he no longer feels this way.

"The passage of time and the support people have shown me have caused me to reconsider this idea. I want to fight," he told the radio station.

Contador said he formally presented his arguments on Monday to the cycling federation. He had until Wednesday to present more evidence before the federation's disciplinary committee renders a final verdict.

The rider can appeal the federation's verdict to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the International Cycling Union or the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Clenbuterol, which can have short-term stimulant effects such as increasing aerobic capacity, was banned by the European Union in 1996 but it is still administered illicitly by some cattle farmers.

The World Anti-Doping Agency lists it as an anabolic agent that is prohibited for use by athletes at all times, both in and out of competition.

Schleck eyes Tour win - with or without Contador

Andy Schleck believes he can finally win the Tour de France this year after finishing runner-up in the past two years - whether reigning champion Alberto Contador is there or not.

"I'm not the one who should say so, but if you look at the standings of the last years, it's normal that I am considered the favourite," the Luxembourg rider told Spanish sports newspaper AS published Tuesday.

Schleck has finished second in the Tour de France to Contador in the past two years.

But the Spaniard is now facing a possible one-year ban from the sport after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs at last year's event, although he has vowed to appeal.

Andy Schleck starts this year with his new Leopard Trek team, backed up by the likes of brother Frank as well as experienced riders Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, Australia's Stuart O'Grady and German rider Jens Voigt.

He was asked by AS if he would still be favourite for the Tour de France if Contador competes.

"I think so. I don't know what will happen with Contador. But I don't believe it would change anything if he takes part or now. I'm going to concentrate on the Tour and not the other opponents," before saying that "if Contador is there he also undoubtedly would be a favourite".

The Schleck brothers left the Danish Saxo Bank team last year.

"I had a great career with Saxo Bank, but situations change," said Andy Schleck, 25. "My contract ended and I had the option to leave for a new project that excites me. There are no more reasons."

Contador, who has won the Tour de France three times, joined Saxo Bank on a two-year deal last year after leaving the Astana team just after the 2010 event.

The Spanish cycling federation last month recommended he receive a one-year ban for his positive test for the banned muscle-building and fat-burning drug clenbuterol.

The rider denies any wrongdoing and says he unknowingly ingested trace elements of clenbuterol from beef brought from Spain to France during the second rest day of the Tour.

The ban would strip Contador stripped of the 2010 Tour title.

© AFP 2011

You can follow BikeRadar on Twitter at twitter.com/bikeradar and on Facebook at facebook.com/BikeRadar.
You can also improve your fitness and train with us on training.bikeradar.com.

User Comments

Post a Comment:

BikeRadar Partner Offers

MuchBetterAdventures

MuchBetterAdventures

-

Find the right cycling holiday for you with MuchBetter Adventures

Fitness Matches

Fitness Matches

-

Dating to get your pulse racing - get 50% off your first month with code FM50