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Alberto Contador ban dispute to be settled before Tour

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'Important' Contador is investigated - McQuaid

The Court of Arbitration for Sport aims to settle the dispute over Alberto Contador's alleged doping offence before the start of the Tour de France.

Contador tested positive for clenbuterol last July but the Spanish Cycling Federation has cleared him.

The International Cycling Union has appealed to Cas to ban the Spaniard, who can ride until the case is heard.

Should Cas rule against ICU, before the Tour starts on 2 July, the 28-year-old will be free to defend his title.

Contador tested positive for the banned drug clenbuterol days before his third Tour de France win last July.

But the Spanish Cycling Federation Contador in February this year.

Lausanne-based Cas, the highest court in sport, registered an appeal by the UCI on Friday.

Contador had minute traces of the drug in his urine samples taken in the closing days of last year's Tour.

Before Cas's announcement, UCI president Pat McQuaid told BBC Sport: "We've studied the case and we feel there's strict liability whereby the athlete has to prove how the product got into his system.

"We feel he hasn't done that in this case and there's a case to answer.

I fully trust my defence and maybe, going to CAS, my innocence will become clearer

Alberto Contador

"Of course it's damaging for the sport but, by the same token, the sport has to police itself and remain credible. That's what the UCI does.

"For us it was important that this case goes to an independent entity which has high credibility and let them make the decision. Everybody will then accept and understand that that's the correct decision."

Contador's lawyer has said his client would be prepared to take his case to the regular Swiss courts if UCI's appeal to Cas is successful.

"We will do everything that's necessary to show that Alberto is innocent," said Andy Ramos.

"We're sure we will win at Cas but if that isn't the case, we'll go wherever we have to to prove his innocence."

Contador faces a possible two-year ban and losing his Tour de France victory, but the Spaniard can continue racing until Cas gives its verdict.

Clenbuterol is a banned fat-burning, muscle-building drug, but the Spanish federation accepted Contador's explanation that he had inadvertently consumed the drug in contaminated beef.

The World Anti-Doping Agency regards clenbuterol as a zero-tolerance drug, though its rules allow athletes to escape a sanction if they prove "no fault or negligence" on their part.

The UCI announced last September that Contador was provisionally suspended and asked the Spanish federation to investigate.

I trust in the independence of CAS and that the resolutions will be taken as quickly as possible

Spanish sports minister Jaime Lissavetzky

The federation's disciplinary committee originally proposed a one-year ban for Contador in January this year, but his legal team then offered new evidence and he was cleared to race three weeks later.

Days before the decision, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had said that there was "no legal reason to justify sanctioning Contador".

"The Spanish federation proposed a one-year sanction then changed it to no sanction and, at the same time they made that decision, there was a huge amount of political pressure in Spain.

"The federation told us it didn't affect their decision but we will never know."

Contador has since resumed his career with new team Saxo Bank-Sungard and completed two races.

He was fourth in the Tour of Algarve in Portugal and won the Vuelta of Murcia in Spain. He currently leads the week-long Tour of Catalonia after the fifth stage on Friday.

"I've learnt about what happened when I crossed the finish line. I wish the situation was different," Contador said.

"I fully trust my defence and maybe, going to Cas, my innocence will become clearer.

"I would have liked there to have been no appeal, but it has happened. In any case, my plans do not change," he added.

Contador is one of only five cyclists to win the three Grand Tours - the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Spanish Vuelta.

He also won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009, but was prevented from defending his first title in 2008 because his Astana team was banned for doping offences at the previous year's race.

Only one cyclist has lost a Tour de France title for doping - American Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 victory.

Contador's team boss Bjarne Riis said he was standing by his star rider.

"Alberto was acquitted in the first place and is innocent of any deliberate wrongdoing until a ruling says something else," said Riis.

"As long as this is a case of accidental intake of a forbidden substance, we will continue to support Alberto. In our opinion, it would be unfair to do anything else."

The Spanish cycling federation said it will defend its disciplinary panel's verdict, "taking each and every necessary action to maintain the innocence of the athlete".

Spain's sports minister Jaime Lissavetzky said on Thursday that he hoped Cas would act quickly to "bring an end to a situation that does not benefit anyone", so Contador can ride in this year's Tour de France if exonerated.

He added: "I trust in the independence of Cas and that the resolutions will be taken as quickly as possible."



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see also
Contador seals Tour of Murcia win
06 Mar 11 |  Cycling
UCI ponders appeal over Contador
05 Mar 11 |  Cycling
Contador makes return to cycling
16 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Contador cleared of doping charge
15 Feb 11 |  Cycling
Tour winner in positive dope test
30 Sep 10 |  Europe
Contador signs for Saxo Bank team
03 Aug 10 |  Cycling
Contador seals third Tour victory
25 Jul 10 |  Cycling


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