Cycling's world governing body today issued a statement which, while regretting Alberto Contador's decision to ride in this year's Tour de France, also asked riders, fans, and the media "to show the utmost sense of responsibility in the coming days and weeks" despite any sense of disappointment or incomprehension they might feel at the Spanish rider's participation in cycling's biggest race.
The message is 'be nice to Alberto' at least until the Court for Arbitration in Sport hears the UCI and WADA's appeal against the decision by the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) to clear him for failing a dope test for clenbuterol on the final rest day at last year's Tour de France, which the then Astana rider went on to win. The Spanish federation instead chose to accept Contador's defence that he had eaten a piece of tainted steak.
"The UCI Management Committee asks that every sportsman and woman set aside their personal opinions, however valid they may be, and accept this framework, which is the result of a long and rigorous procedure.
"The UCI, which has always persevered in seeking out the truth, is ready to accept its responsibilities and is also keen to see the swiftest possible conclusion to the matter.
"Until that time, the UCI Management Committee asks that we respect Alberto Contador’s right to be treated like every other rider who takes the start of the Tour de France.
The prestige of the event warrants it, and the dignity of all athletes demands it."
Of course it isn't just the prestige of the Tour de France that is at stake (sorry) here, the UCI has also taken something of a battering over the length of time this process has now taken without yet arriving at a conclusion.
While acknowledging that the legal process surrounding Contador since he failed the test for clenbuterol at last year's Tour de France might be viewed as "excessively long" the statement went on to claim that this "is the logical result of the need for justice to be administered properly."
So while the UCI may be "ready to accept its responsibilties" – that doesn't include reponsibility for the slowness of the slow motion car crash that the Contador case has now become. However the UCI cites due process and wheels out none other than IOC President, Jacques Rogge as a witness in it's defence. Commenting on the affair yesterday the IOC President said:
“I agree that it will cast a question mark on the validity of the result until the verdict is rendered... but there is a presumption of innocence.”
Those wishing to put the UCI in the dock over this will question why the whole process took so long to get going – news of Contador's failed test was not released until the end of September and as the case of Alejandro Valverde proved ,the Spanish Cycling Federation would appear to have form when it comes to waiting a very long time indeed to take action against one of its star riders
You can read the full text of this release on the UCI's website www.uci.ch (when they put it on there).
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.