Alberto Contador fears that his positive test for the banned substance clenbuterol means that his reputation will be forever tainted, irrespective of whether he manages to escape a ban following his failed drugs test during the Tour de France. The 27-year-old also said that if he is unable to clear his name, he may give up cycling altogether.
"If this is not resolved favourably and in just fashion then I would have to consider whether I would ever get back on a bike," he, as reported by AFP, although he added “I think this will all be resolved in a favourable manner."
According to a report in the Australian newspaper The Herald Sun, published in Melbourne where yesterday’s World Championship Elite Men’s Road Race began, Contador has also said that allegations in French sports daily L’Equipe that he had also engaged in blood doping had come as “a crippling blow.”
"I didn’t read the accusations (of blood doping) but I was told about them," he revealed. “That was a crippling blow. L’Équipe carries considerable weight in the sporting world and accusations based on a hypothesis can be very harmful.
"I respect everybody’s work, it’s just that I’d like that this kind of information to be treated with extreme caution. The damage could be enormous,” he continued.
Contador continued: “"The damage is done for me and for cycling, once again. It’s damaging for me and for the credibility of the Tour de France. It’s damaging for me and for all the teams.
"Everything I have sacrificed for this sport has been unjustly swept away in two days. I don’t admit to it (doping). I will only fight so that the truth be known, but the harm that has been done to me is incalculable."
The Spaniard’s reaction came in the wake of statements by two members of the French team in Australia for last week’s racing that they hadn’t been surprised by last week’s news that Contador, who besides three Tour de France titles has also won the Vuelta and the Giro d’Italia, had tested positive.
“[Contador] is falling. The big champions are falling. It’s like that," said Sylvain Chavanel, the Quickstep rider who had two separate stints in the race leader’s maillot jaune during July’s Tour de France.
"It’s always disappointing to see things like this, but it’s good that we’ve reached a point where things are being found,” he continued.
"The levels [of clenbuterol] might be low, but there are traces there all the same. It’s up to Contador to prove his innocence."
Francaise des Jeux rider Yoann Offredo was even more forthright than Chavanel in his views on the Spanish rider’s problems.
It’s a story that we’ve been expecting," he said to RMC.fr, according to the Herald Sun. "We’re not unduly surprised. A little [surprised] about the clenbuterol because we’d really have expected something else. It’s like the tree that hides the forest.
"Right now, amongst the riders, I can tell you that we’re not that shocked," he added.
In a separate interview with The Associated Press, Contador invited authorities to freeze his blood and urine samples so that future, more advanced, testing systems could help determine his innocence.
“I can tell you I am not a scientist but I can also tell you that all my urine and all my blood samples are in the lab, and I call for them to be analysed as many times as necessary to clear up this case," he staed. "If it is necessary to freeze either my urine or my blood samples so that five years from now, when the system has been further perfected, it can be analysed, I authorise this."
While samples of blood and urine taken during the Olympic Games are kept for as long as eight years so that they can be re-tested as new equipment becomes available, the UCI does not do that as a matter of course, although it does have the option to do so.
The cyclist acknowledged that there would be those who would never be convinced of his innocence following his failed drugs test, saying: "There will be people who believe it more, who have more trust, and others who believe it less."
He added that he wished he still had some of the beef that he claims was contaminated so he could prove it was the source of the clenbuterol traces.
"Boy, do I wish I had a piece of that meat so it could analyzed in a laboratory with the level of precision of the one in Cologne," he explained. "That is now something that is totally impossible to prove."
Meanwhile, L’Equipe has also reported that according to the website Sporten.dk, Contador had apologised to future manager Bjarne Riis about not having spoken to him regarding his positive test.
“I should probably have spoken to him but in the end I decided that it would be better for the two parties not to talk about it,” he said. “I’m sorry and my words can’t describe what I’ve undergone during these past six weeks. I’ve no-one to talk to about this and it’s hard to keep this all to myself,” he added.
Finally, in an interview published yesterday in L”Equipe, Contador revealed that he’d thought about telling children he saw riding around his home town in emulation of their hero to forget about dreams of becoming a cyclist.
“I wanted to tell them: ‘Drop it. Don’t try to be a champion and do it correctly. This world is unjust,” he said.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.