“When Alberto is not able to … ride for the team, the contract cannot continue. I think that’s pretty obvious,” Riis said at a press conference in Madrid. Later, he added that he would be happy to work with again Contador in the future.
Contador said in his statements that while the contract is over for now, he would give Saxo Bank the first chance to sign him when he returns to competition on August 5, but that he is now a free agent.
Riis said that while he and the team had hoped for a different outcome of the arbitration, he would not have changed how they’d acted in response.
“We have asked ourselves many times during this case, could we as a team have done things any differently? I really don’t think we could have done things differently than what we have done trying to support every one of our riders,” Riis said.
The CAS announced its decision yesterday, after hearing appeals from the UCI and WADA, to suspend Contador from the time of his notification in August 2011 for two years.
“We inherited this case, and we patiently waited for a decision,” Riis said, adding a justification as to why Contador continued to compete despite having the spectre of the UCI and WADA appeals of the decision hanging over him. “All along, we followed the rules and because Alberto was cleared [by the RFEC in early 2011], he was able to ride.”
Riis said that, as in the RFEC’s decision to allow Contador to race, he and the team have to respect this new decision by the CAS, but vowed to continue to support Contador “one hundred per cent”.
He referred to the written CAS decision, saying that the appearance of clenbuterol in Contador’s system most likely was the result of a contaminated supplement and “was unlikely to have anything to do with conscious cheating”.
Alberto contador is accompanied by bjarne riis in the background during a press conference given by the spaniard following his doping suspension: alberto contador is accompanied by bjarne riis in the background during a press conference given by the spaniard following his doping suspensionAFP/Getty Images
Alberto Contador and Bjarne Riis
Alberto Contador, accompanied by his spokesman Jacinto Vidarte and Saxo Bank team manager Bjarne Riis, conducted a press conference today in his hometown of Pinto, Spain to discuss Monday’s CAS decision in which the Spaniard’s positive doping violation from the 2010 Tour de France was upheld.
Contador was banned for two years, backdated to his positive result in 2010, and will be eligible to compete again on August 5, 2012.
“The way I feel right now is deceived,” said Contador. “My dreams have collapsed and my morale right now is very confused. There hasn’t been one morning when I haven’t asked myself how this happened.
“The hardest thing for me is how it’s touched my family, people saying I’m guilty and talking of justice and injustice.”
Contador continued to stress his innocence and expressed bafflement about the verdict to ban him for doping.
“I can’t understand the final verdict,” said Contador. “I’ve gone through everything, spent hours going over things. If there’s anything I can do to prove my innocence I’ll do it. There are many things that I cannot understand about this decision but for the moment I want to keep them to myself. I’m not an expert.”
Contador was effusive in his praise of the support he’s received since his positive test came to light in 2010, from family, friends and his team.
“I’d like to express my satisfaction will all the support. It’s unbelievable all the support I’ve had since this has started. There have been months when I couldn’t sleep, months where I wanted to stay at home and not ride a bike.
“There are many things I could say, but it’s a decision that each of you has to decide on this verdict. This is going to follow me for many, many years.”
The Spaniard was critical of the length of time it took for a final decision to be made and remained resolute that he would compete again once his ban expires this August.
“What has happened to me is not something I’d want to happen to anybody,” said Contador. “For the good of cycling and sport in general this has to be faster. It cannot last as long as it has. I think it is very important and people need to work on this. I’ll keep fighting until the end. The decision is now for the lawyers to look at. We’re looking at all possibilities.
“I’m sure of one thing. I want to come back to ride the best races. I’ll train clean as I’ve always done. Right now even though my morale is low I know I’ll come back just as strong.”