Facing sanction, Tour de France's Contador 'no longer believes' in doping system
'I'm innocent,' cyclist Alberto Contador said at a press conference today, vowing to fight a proposal to suspend him and strip his 2010 Tour de France title.
Three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, in his first reaction to a proposed one-year suspension for alleged doping, strongly defended his innocence in an emotional press conference today.Skip to next paragraph
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Accusing international cycling and anti-doping organizations of making him a scapegoat, Mr. Contador vowed to fight any sanctions as a “question of honor” because “all scientists know I’m innocent.”
Now, he just has to argue that to the Spanish cycling federation.
The 28-year-old cyclist has until the second week in February to convince the federation to revise its preliminary decision. After that, the final ruling will only be appealable in the Zurich-based Court of Arbitration for Sport. If the suspension is confirmed, as most expect, he will lose his last Tour de France title and will not be allowed to compete for most of 2011.
“I’ve had over 500 controls [drug tests] in my life, many unannounced, in my home, in family dinners. I’ve had to exit a theater halfway through a movie to pass a control, just because I believed in the anti-doping system. I no longer believe in the system,” Contador said Friday, his voice often cracking and on the verge of tears. “I’m a victim of the system.”
The investigation of Spain's beloved cyclist, a hero to many here, has revealed a divide between Spaniards who believe Contador is being made an example of and those who believe he is getting off easy. While the proposed penalty nearly brought Contador to tears, it also spared him the normal two-year suspension and surrender of 70 percent of the previous year's income – which could have cost him $4.8 million.
A shady case
The case has been shady from the get-go. It was only disclosed weeks after Contador was declared winner of the 2010 Tour de France, despite the fact he tested positive for minute traces of clenbuterol during a rest day. The investigation has also dragged on for months.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) reportedly pressured Spain’s cycling federation to act decisively, demanding a two-year suspension, especially following numerous doping cases of Spanish athletes, including several top cyclists. The UCI did not return calls requesting comment.