Britain’s David Millar has leapt to the defence of Tour de France champion Alberto Contador after the Spaniard was suspended for a positive test for banned substance clenbuterol.
Three-time yellow jersey winner Contador was provisionally suspended by the International Cycling Union (UCI) Thursday after a sample taken on the second rest day at the Tour de France on July 21 tested positive.
Contador has blamed the test on food contamination, while the UCI said the minute traces of the drug found in the sample warranted “further scientific investigation”.
Contador was one of the most tested riders in the Tour de France this year and Millar, who served a two-year ban for doping after admitting to using the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin), leapt to his defence.
Moments after earning a silver medal behind Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland in the time trial at the world road race cycling championships, the Scot said Contador was a “fantastic athlete and a great human being” and said the case should never have been revealed while further investigation was needed.
“I think there’s a very strong chance that this is being blown way out of proportion…because it’s a microdose and it was on a rest day and it makes no sense,” said Millar. “It makes no sense because it would have come up in other controls.
“It’s a shame that it’s been released when it hasn’t been resolved. I think it’s something that should be resolved behind closed doors and done the way it should be done properly.”
“There are strict rules and I think unfortunately in cycling for the right reasons we always jump to the worst-case scenario and because of the history we have in the sport unfortunately maybe Alberto’s just maybe been kind of thrown to the sharks.
“I think it will get resolved and I hope so for Alberto’s benefit and I hope so for the sport’s benefit.”
Contador has signed a contract with the Saxo Bank team for 2011, and the Danish outfit run by former yellow jersey champion Bjarne Riis, said it would not comment until the UCI has finished its investigation.
A statement said: “Riis Cycling’s management team is reviewing this situation as information becomes available. The UCI has communicated, ‘This case required further scientific investigation before any conclusion could be drawn.’
“As the UCI works with WADA to analyze the relevant elements of this case, Riis Cycling will refrain from drawing conclusions or discussing possible consequences.
“It is Riis Cycling’s hope that this case can be resolved in an orderly and timely fashion as it is in the best interests of all parties involved that the proper conclusions are drawn within a reasonable period of time.
“Riis Cycling has always held a very strong stance against doping in our sport. The team has had and will continue to have the position that cheating of any form will not be tolerated as it goes against our core values and the desire for a clean sport.”
© AFP 2010