World cycling chief Pat McQuaid insisted Wednesday that he wants a definitive decision on the doping case of Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador before the start of the Tour de France next July.
Spain’s cycling federation (RFEC) on Tuesday cleared the three-time Tour de France champion of knowingly using a banned substance in a dramatic U-turn that means he can ride in this year’s race.
The 28-year-old’s future had hung in the balance after testing positive for minute traces of the banned substance clenbuterol during last July’s Tour de France.
Contador had repeatedly denied knowingly taking any banned substances, blaming the result on on a steak he says was contaminated with traces of the muscle-building drug.
And International Cycling Union (UCI) president McQuaid said he would wait to study the complete file before deciding whether to appeal the RFEC decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
“At the UCI we don’t know the case sufficiently. We received a 25-page summary yesterday (Tuesday) and are waiting to receive the complete file to study it and to really see what is behind this affair,” said McQuaid at the Tour of Oman cycling race.
“That will be done in conjunction with the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) even if the decision to appeal or not will be taken by the UCI. We’ll have 30 days from the time we receive the file.”
While McQuaid said he had “not specially” been surprised by the decision he had been shocked by politicians becoming involved with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero stating last week “there is no legal reason to sanction Contador”.
“Nothing surprises me any more…” said McQuaid.
“On the other hand I’m disappointed by the political pressure in Spain. That doesn’t help with a calm investigation.
“I don’t understand why politicians have to meddle in sport which has its own disciplinary procedures. Having said that I don’t blame the Spanish cycling federation which did its job investigating in a serious manner.”
He added: “I hope that the affair will be definitively closed before the start of the next Tour de France. I work tirelessly to ensure the credibility of cycling by doing the maximum for riders who respect the rules. All the rules.”
Riis happy for Contador, but expects UCI appeal
Saxo Bank team owner Bjarne Riis expressed his happiness Tuesday after three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador was cleared of doping allegations by the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC).
Contador had only just inked a contract with the Danish outfit when he was informed he had tested positive for trace amounts of clenbuterol, a banned substance, during the 2010 edition of the race.
After months of anguish, the 28-year-old was finally given some good news Tuesday when the RFEC decided to accept his claim that he had inadvertently ingested the substance through contaminated meat he had eaten during the race.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) is expected to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), paving the way for a long, drawn-out process which may, ultimately, see Contador serve a ban.
But in the meantime Contador is free to compete for the first time for his new team, and will ride the Tour of Algarve as of Tuesday.
Riis said: “This decision is indeed proof that the relevant authorities do not find grounds for believing that Alberto Contador has committed any intentional doping offence, which is absolutely vital for us.
“So I’m obviously happy on behalf of Alberto and the team. We take note of this decision and fully respect it, but we’re also sensitive to the fact, that the parties of this case still have the right to appeal this decision.”
Contador’s future has hung in the balance since he announced last August he had tested positive for minute traces of clenbuterol during last July’s Tour de France when he raced for the Astana team.
Clenbuterol is a banned weight loss/muscle-building drug which is also used to increase lean meat in cattle. The substance was banned by the European Union in 1996 but it is still administered illicitly by some cattle farmers.
A statement released by the governing body acknowledged the RFEC’s decision, but said: “… the UCI reserves the right to conduct an in-depth study of the reasons behind the decision before expressing its opinion.
“In accordance with the regulations the UCI now awaits the full dossier on the case from the RFEC. Once this documentation has been received, the UCI will issue its decision within 30 days.”
Riis added: “I really want to take this opportunity to emphasize again that nothing in our values has changed. We’re still a team that strongly condemns all kind of cheating, including doping.
“But we will at all times also be a fair team. It is of great importance, that we don’t equate conscious cheating and an accidental intake of a banned substance.”
© AFP 2011