Contador considers appealing CAS decision, but WADA chief brands him "a doping cheat"

Meanwhile, Saxo Bank team boss Bjarne Riis says Spaniard has team's full support

by Simon_MacMichael   February 7, 2012  

Contador and Riis press conference

Alberto Contador has refused to rule out an appeal against yesterday’s decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to ban him for two years as a result of his failed test for clenbuterol in the 2010 Tour de France, which he won while riding with Astana. He was also stripped of that title, plus subsequent results including his 2011 Giro d’Italia victory.

The Spaniard was speaking at a press conference this evening in his home town of Pinto, near Madrid, where he appeared alongside Saxo Bank manager Bjarne Riis. Earlier in the day, however, World Anti-Doping Agency President John Fahey had branded the 29-year-old “a doping cheat, full stop.”

Riis meanwhile said that Contador had Saxo Bank’s’s full support, although he stopped short of confirming that the rider will be back in its jersey when he returns to the sport in August.

Contador was greeted with applause as he entered the room where the press conference, relayed live by Eurosport, had been convened in the Hotel Las Artes in Pinto.

Asked whether he planned to appeal the CAS decision, he replied, “"My lawyers are examining the possibilities and as I have said before we have to fight to the end."

A decision of CAS can be appealed to the Swiss Federal Court, but only on procedural or technical grounds, such as when evidence has been ruled inadmissible, for example, and not on the actual facts of the case. Any appeal must be filed within 30 days of yesterday’s announcement.

"My dreams have collapsed," Contador had begun. "There's not been one morning that I haven't asked myself how I got into this situation. It's been a hard year. I wouldn't wish a year like this on anyone.”

Contador has always insisted that his positive test was due to his having eaten a contaminated steak on the eve of the second rest day of the 2010 Tour, the latter being the day the sample giving rise to his ban was taken.

The CAS rejected that hypothesis, as well as one put forward by WADA that he had undergone an illegal blood transfusion, saying that the more likely explanation for the presence of clenbuterol, a substance for which there is no minimum threshold under anti-doping rules, was “ingestion of a contaminated food supplement.”

"Everybody has been saying that I'm guilty of something that's against my own moral standpoint,” Contador maintained. “My feeling of injustice is terrible. “Throughout all these months I've done everything possible to show that I was innocent. I've written it all down, gone through everything, spent hours and hours answering the questions they've put to me.

"As I said to CAS at the recent hearing, if there's anything more I could have said to show that I'm innocent then tell me what it is.

"I do feel a strange satisfaction in that at least it is all over.,” he continued “I feel it is particularly hard on me because the amount of clenbuterol was so small it would never change my performance."

Thanking those who have stood by him since news he had tested positive for clenbuterol broke at the end of September 2010.

"I want to leave good memories for the fans and have memories of doing my job well," he maintained.

"Every victory I've had hasn't just been mine, it's been for all the people who've enjoyed watching them too. They will decide whether I'm a champion or not.

"I'll continue riding. I'll keep on training, cleanly, as I always have done. Even though my morale is very low now I'll come back as good as I ever was.

"To me it's incredible, almost unbelievable, how much support I've had. I've had nightmare months when I couldn't sleep, months when I wanted to go home rather than ride a bike, so thank you to everyone who has supported me. It's allowed me to go on fighting."

The rider also called for the current system to be reformed, saying: "What happened to me could have happened to anyone. For the sake of everybody the system needs to be improved."

As things stand, Contador will be free to return to the sport on 6th August this year, a fortnight after the Tour de France ends and just days after the time trial at the London Olympics, a race he had hoped to target.

His ban runs retrospectively from 25 January 2011, the date the Spanish federation, the RFEC, said it planned to ban him for 12 months, and also discounts his previous provisional suspension – which in his case was in effect the close season.

The RFEC’s final decision, announced last February following further representation’s on Contador’s behalf, was that he had not committed an offence, and followed statements of support from high-profile figures including then Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

As UCI president Pat McQuaid had done at the time, WADA’s Fahey today criticised that intervention, although without naming the politician in question.

"I think that governments and politicians ought to stand back and stay above the administration of these issues when it comes to doping in sport," he told Reuters.

"Contador is a doping cheat, full stop,” Fahey continued.

"I can say with regard to the Contador decision, it was regrettable that, when the Spanish federation proposed a 12-month penalty, a senior politician made a statement to say that Contador was innocent.

"They then withdrew their proposed 12-month penalty and exonerated him, that effectively meant that WADA had no choice but to appeal.

"Whatever we would have done if the 12 months had stood, I can't say, but after those set of circumstances came, which suggested there was clearly a bias, certainly by the senior politician who made that statement publicly, then we had to appeal”

Riis, who was himself stripped of the 1996 Tour de France title after admitting in 2007 that he had used EPO – organisers ASO subsequently reinstated him as the official winner, albeit with a large asterisk next to his name – began this evening’s press conference in Pinto by outlining the harm he believed the case had done to the sport.

“I think all of us here today can agree this case has been going on for far too long, and it has been harmful to both the world of cycling, to our team and to Alberto Contador,” the Dane explained.

“It’s obvious that putting this case to an end is something that we have been looking forward to for a long time. We look forward to getting back to a point when we can start to have an influence on things again.”

He continued: “Personally, I had hoped for another result. We have asked ourselves many times during this case if we could have done anything at all differently, and the answer is no. I really don’t think we could have done things differently to what we have done, and at the same time be able to look at ourselves in mirror.

Saxo Bank had signed Contador for the 2011 and 2012 seasons in August 2010, before the former Astana rider had been informed that he had tested positive, and Riis said: “We inherited this case and patiently we had to wait for a final decision.

“All along we did nothing but following the rules, and because Alberto was cleared in the first place [by the RFEC], he was free to ride. Now we have the CAS ruling and as it was the case with the first ruling, we will have to respect it, and we will of course act accordingly to this,” he added.

Riis, whose team according to some risks losing its WorldTour place as a result of being stripped of points accrued by Contador, insisted that the rider, who also faces a multimillion euro fine, had its full support.

“Today I’d like to say that we as a team, supported by all our sponsors, will continue to fully support Alberto, based on the ruling from CAS,” he said.

“The ruling states that it’s very unlikely this has anything to do with conscious cheating. The most likely reason is instead accidental intake of a supplement. This is very important for us, so our trust in Alberto is still 100 per cent intact,” he concluded.

21 user comments

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"As I said to CAS at the recent hearing, if there's anything more I could have said to show that I'm innocent then tell me what it is" - sort of misses the point, this. Whatever he said needed to be credible, and the contaminated steak defence wasn't, really.

Will be interesting to see if Saxo want to continue with him after this year. Does Riis even hav sponsors after the end of 2012? Renewing Contador's contract could make finding sponsors more difficult. My guess is they'll let him return with the team in August and then let his contract lapse...

posted by step-hent [675 posts]
8th February 2012 - 10:17

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Methinks he doth protest too much!

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [950 posts]
8th February 2012 - 10:57

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I was adamant that he was guilty. For some reason, although I can't explain why, I am less convinced of that after watching the press conference.

Even though the live English translation wasn't great having a wife that speaks Spanish next to me at the time meant a tad more detail, etc perhaps. I don't know, there is just something that left me feeling that maybe I was wrong all along.

posted by Super Domestique [1599 posts]
8th February 2012 - 11:39

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According to other sites, Riis has released Contador from his contract - though he didn't rule out signing him again in August...

posted by step-hent [675 posts]
8th February 2012 - 12:22

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Thanks Step-hent, story updated, looks like that came out in the Q&A with Riis after the Eurosport live TV coverage had ended.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8034 posts]
8th February 2012 - 12:39

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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
Thanks Step-hent, story updated, looks like that came out in the Q&A with Riis after the Eurosport live TV coverage had ended.

No worries. Seems odd to me. Riis says Contador has the team's full backing, then when questioned says they've released him. Sounds like just a way of getting Contador's salary back and reducing the price of his contract renewal!

posted by step-hent [675 posts]
8th February 2012 - 13:10

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posted by GrahamH [18 posts]
8th February 2012 - 13:40

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One has to wonder what kind of food supplements contain the banned substance Clenbuterol?

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [1947 posts]
8th February 2012 - 14:04

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*spits*

Hope he never gets on a bike again..

I hate cheaters

seabass89's picture

posted by seabass89 [235 posts]
8th February 2012 - 14:26

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see you in august alberto, shame,of all the dopers iactually believe he is innocent. such a small amount of a rubbish enhancing drug, from a man who knew he would be consistantly tested. stinks of a stitch up to me

posted by russyparkin [579 posts]
8th February 2012 - 16:51

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russyparkin wrote:
see you in august alberto, shame,of all the dopers iactually believe he is innocent. such a small amount of a rubbish enhancing drug, from a man who knew he would be consistantly tested. stinks of a stitch up to me

Ditto

for me - The ride is about adventure, camaraderie and the sense of accomplishment that comes after a long day in the saddle.

Mountain-Nic's picture

posted by Mountain-Nic [119 posts]
8th February 2012 - 21:02

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Bertie really isn't that bright - he moans about the length of time the process has taken, but his lawyers have played a blinder. If they could have dragged it out for another 6 months, that would have meant he would have raced throughout his entire 'ban' whilst the process continued and then could simply have carried on seemlessly with his tainted career without any kind of break whatsoever. Genius - only in the f*&%ed up world of professional cycling could this come to pass.

I'm off to have lovely great big steak now with the expectation that my performance will soar.

It' enough to make you weep.

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [212 posts]
8th February 2012 - 21:40

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Mountain-Nic wrote:
russyparkin wrote:
see you in august alberto, shame,of all the dopers iactually believe he is innocent. such a small amount of a rubbish enhancing drug, from a man who knew he would be consistantly tested. stinks of a stitch up to me

Ditto

+3 ... real shame, great rider too! Sad

Argy's picture

posted by Argy [147 posts]
8th February 2012 - 22:00

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He's been banned; and branded a cheat. What I find disappointing is; the people who loved watching him ride, who supported his career! No longer have a good word to say about him! Personally, I loved watching him ride that bike. He is a great road race and TT cyclist. I'm certainly not going to put my boot in, especially while this young man is at, what is probably the darkest moments in his cycling career; and I'm not prepared to pass judjment on his future career as a top class Pro Cyclist.

I truly hope we see him ride Le Tour again.

Forgivness is a gift best given!

posted by Mostyn [407 posts]
9th February 2012 - 0:58

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His natural ability to ride so lightly on the pedals uphill (dancing on the pedals in Phil Liggett terms) is a delight to watch, I admit, so for that alone I hope he rides the Vuelta this year.

posted by Super Domestique [1599 posts]
9th February 2012 - 11:01

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Riis supporting Contador.
From one drugs cheat to another. Classic.

sloop

posted by sloop [22 posts]
9th February 2012 - 11:17

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He should perhaps have beefed up his defence.

RoadChimp's picture

posted by RoadChimp [20 posts]
9th February 2012 - 11:20

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Seabass - TOS
Sloop - SER

Amunt Alberto !!!!!!!!!

La Brisa Fresca's picture

posted by La Brisa Fresca [44 posts]
9th February 2012 - 13:24

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step-hent wrote:
According to other sites, Riis has released Contador from his contract - though he didn't rule out signing him again in August...

Lol - way to show full support Riis!

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
9th February 2012 - 15:09

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What I don't get, reading the article above, it seems CAS said he ingested contaminated food supplements. If so, does that make him drug cheat by ingesting such small amounts that wouldn't make a snail move quicker. Then why ban him as a drug cheat.

For me, by definition a drug cheat is someone who gains an unfair advantage through taking a performance enhancing substance. CAS if I read this right said no he didn't deliberately do this but because there is no lower limit and the world anti doping agency seems not to have done any research whether this particular drugs affects through a range of dosages - someone gets seriously stitched up.

Tragic - I love watching him ride, the way he moves is glorious and its not from miniscule contaminated food stuffs - while all this is going on, true drug cheats get away with it and the fallacy that is the world drugs agency gets more unjustified feathers in there caps.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [117 posts]
10th February 2012 - 18:36

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Ciaran Patrick wrote:
What I don't get, reading the article above, it seems CAS said he ingested contaminated food supplements. If so, does that make him drug cheat by ingesting such small amounts that wouldn't make a snail move quicker. Then why ban him as a drug cheat.

For me, by definition a drug cheat is someone who gains an unfair advantage through taking a performance enhancing substance. CAS if I read this right said no he didn't deliberately do this but because there is no lower limit and the world anti doping agency seems not to have done any research whether this particular drugs affects through a range of dosages - someone gets seriously stitched up.

Tragic - I love watching him ride, the way he moves is glorious and its not from miniscule contaminated food stuffs - while all this is going on, true drug cheats get away with it and the fallacy that is the world drugs agency gets more unjustified feathers in there caps.


Great post Ciarian I agree 100%
its a sad day for cycling when the best rider of the generation gets bannned...
The race results are valid to me... where as our record books for bike racing are becoming a joke full of second place winners... Jan Ullrich got a load of titles stripped from him the day after Alberto Crying
Open your eyes, stop being in denial, Top sportsmen in most sports are doped & there is loads of info on it football & tennis imparticular
Oh yeah an Frank Schleck was involved in Operation Puerto for all you that think the Schlecks are clean, Frank admited paying Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes over ten thousand pounds for 'trainning'
http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.com/p/players-talk-about-doping...
http://news.softpedia.com/news/Eufemiano-Fuentes-Breaks-Off-Silence-2867...

Paulo's picture

posted by Paulo [110 posts]
11th February 2012 - 17:05

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