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Tour organisers regret delays as Spaniard seeks to become first man since Pantani to land Giro-Tour double

Alberto Contador looks set to defend his Tour de France title next month after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) confirmed that the appeal against the decision of the Spanish national cycling decision, the RFEC, not to sanction him following his positive test for clenbuterol in last year’s race will not be heard until August 1-3, a week after this year’s edition of cycling’s biggest race finishes.

The Spaniard, who raced for Astana last year, has always insisted that traces of clenbuterol – a substance for which no minimum threshold is required in order for a positive result to be returned – found in his urine were present as a result of his having eaten contaminated beef.

While the RFEC was initially reported to have been planning to ban Contador for a year, it ended up clearing him altogether, with concern expressed in some quarters that it had performed its apparent about-turn following political pressure in Spain, with the country’s prime minister and leader of the opposition both expressing their support for the cyclist.

World cycling’s governing body, the UCI, and the World Anti-doping Agency have both lodged separate appeals with CAS against the RFEC’s decision. ASO, the organisers of the Tour de France, had always pressed for the case to be heard before this year’s edition of the race got under way.

The appeal was initially due to be heard next week, but last month it was reported that Contador’s lawyers had succeeded in having the hearing postponed.

ASO could potentially seek to exclude the rider from the race, in line with action it has taken in the past against certain teams and individuals. However, with Contador having been cleared to race by his national federation, such a decision would probably result in yet further legal action on the cyclist’s part.

Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, seemed resigned to Contador’s participation in the race, however, telling French sports daily L’Equipe: “We have said and repeated that we hoped for a ruling ahead of the 2011 edition. This was no more than common sense but it was no doubt too much to ask. We can only regret the time difference between that used by sport and the media, and that of justice.”

On Sunday, the SunGard-Saxo Bank rider was crowned the 2011 Giro d’Italia champion in Milan after dominating the race, and he will be seeking to become the first man since the late Marco Pantani in 1998 to win both the Italian and French grand tours in the same year.

Meanwhile, UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani confirmed that should the appeal go against Contador, the rider faced been stripped of not only his 2010 Tour de France title but also last month’s Giro win as well as any other results he has achieved since last July.

"We will ask for disqualification of all the results since the day of the (doping) control," Carpani told The Associated Press.

"However, the UCI is open to any decision taken by the CAS and will accept it without any problem," he added.

During the Giro d’Italia, Contador at times faced protests from fans contesting his participation in the race, including one who memorably dangled a steak from a fishing rod.

However, Carpani urged fans to wait for the resolution of the legal process, saying “We invite everyone to accept this. We know that some people could be a little bit disappointed."
 

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.

10 comments

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BigDummy [314 posts] 4 years ago
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So. The Tour of the Dangling Steaks it shall be.  22

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Cooks [490 posts] 4 years ago
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the longer this goes on, the worse it looks. If CAS finds him guilty, we have shown the winner of (potentially) 3 grand tours, the pinnacle of our sport as a cheat who we have let get away with it for a year. Which I think is much worse than clearing him, on a technicality. It's like saying "Yeah, we screwed up for a year, but it's ok now, everybody who came second now won" rather than "We shall be looking into our drug testing, and the appropriate levels of drugs in our athletes systems (based on what the drugs are)."

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Rubber Bike [5 posts] 4 years ago
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I hate to sound jingoistic but you get the feeling that if it was Bradley Wiggins this debate wouldn't be happening. Some countries just take doping less seriously. Whilst there is an almost, sort of, zero tolerance to doping it will continue as it appears that you can get away with it.  2

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cat1commuter [1420 posts] 4 years ago
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If he does ride, I wonder how often he'll get booed by the French crowd?

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antonio [1117 posts] 4 years ago
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Will he make the same quote as he made at the 'Giro', the tour will be won in the hotel bedroom, can't believe no one picked up on that one.

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Simon_MacMichael [2448 posts] 4 years ago
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antonio wrote:

Will he make the same quote as he made at the 'Giro', the tour will be won in the hotel bedroom, can't believe no one picked up on that one.

Heh, what he apparently meant by that was that the burden of having the maglia rosa - the presentations, press conferences, and yes, the doping controls, etc, in turn potentially leading to delays in getting to the hotel - meant that if he got it too early on, his rivals would benefit from more recovery time after each stage.

Not that it seemed to affect the result, but yes, it was an unfortunate turn of phrase.

Still, at least he didn't say it would be won in the hotel restaurant, eh?  3

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stevefisher [40 posts] 4 years ago
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Pantani, the last man to win the Giro and the TdF in the same year

not hard to make the comparison

This is a farce

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1961BikiE [188 posts] 4 years ago
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As I have said in my many other posts surrounding this farce. In the last 4 years, 5? ASO have prevented teams who they feel have bought the Tour into disrepute from racing. Astana etc. If they are serious in their alleged commitment to keep the Tour above suspicion, irrespective of what the UCI and national bodies are up to, then they have to say to Saxo Bank, No Contador or no Tour. I suspect they haven't got the guts to do it though but will wait for yet another Tour champ to be stripped of his title.

And don't forget if he does get banned in August that will mean that the winner of the 2010 & 2011 will be stripped in one go. Would you want that if you were ASO? (Yes I am assuming he will win and will be amazed if he doesn't if he is allowed to race).

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abudhabiChris [692 posts] 4 years ago
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Technically Contador is not guilty as he has been acquitted by the responsbile body, his national federation, and it is being appealed to CAS.

So the whole world may think he's a cheat but ASO don't really have legal grounds to stop him racing, especially as it would contravene their agreement to give starts in the Tour to the Pro classified teams.

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PJ McNally [591 posts] 4 years ago
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Rasmussen is the precedent I can think of - not actually "guilty" of anything, yet kicked off the tour if I remember right.

Now I don't think that was the right thing to do to him - but if ASO does one thing to Rasmussen and another to Contador, where are we headed?

Ah - just checked - maybe it was Rabobank that screwed up Rasmussen's tour, not ASO.