Cycling: Alberto Contador to fight doping ban

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The Independent Online

Alberto Contador has vowed to fight his proposed one-year doping ban, saying: "I will appeal in every possible court to defend my innocence".

The 28-year-old Spaniard, who won the 2010 Tour de France, tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol on the second rest day, July 21, of last year's Tour but has maintained his innocence, claiming the substance was in some contaminated meat.



As a result, the three-time Tour champion was provisionally suspended by the International Cycling Union (UCI), who commissioned the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) to open disciplinary proceedings against him.



Contador's spokesperson on Wednesday night issued a statement which confirmed the RFEC's ruling, with the Madrid-born rider given 10 days to appeal.



Speaking in Palma, Mallorca, today, Contador said: "This is just a proposal and in the next 10 days I am going to work as hard as I can with my lawyers for justice to be done.



"I am against this proposal. I will work to cancel it but in case it becomes definite, I will appeal in every possible court to defend my innocence."

Following the rest day in Pau, Contador defended the Tour yellow jersey from continual attacks by nearest rival Andy Schleck up the Col du Tourmalet in the Pyrenees before securing victory on the penultimate day's time-trial.

Contador, who has won all three Grand Tours of France, Italy and Spain, could now be stripped of his latest Tour title.



The UCI yesterday moved to clarify the RFEC's one-year suspension was only proposed and together with the World Anti-Doping Agency would likely seek the enforcement of the standard two-year ban.



Contador has said he would consider his future in cycling if a 24-month ban was imposed.



Today the rider attacked the authorities for the way the news of his proposed ban emerged.



"It's a disgrace that it was leaked to the press before it was made official to me," he added.



"It's disgraceful what has happened. This has become a public court case."



Contador was speaking alongside Bjarne Riis, his team director at Saxo Bank-Sungard, who has promised to support the rider.



The Spaniard joined the team from Astana following at the end of last season.



Contador again protested his innocence.



He added: "I know the responsibility I have is huge, that I am an example to many.



"I have never doped myself, never. I can say loud and clear, with my head held high. I consider myself as an example of a clean sportsman.



"I find it, therefore, very difficult to handle the things that are said about me.



"The only mistake I have made is to have a piece of meat that I had not analysed before to check if it had clenbuterol."



He said he no longer trusted the anti-doping system, one which he had complied with throughout his career.



He added: "I have given everything to this sport, it's my life and I have given so much to it.



"I have had 500 anti-doping controls in my career, many of which were surprise controls.



"I have had to leave birthday parties, get out of a cinema midway through a film, leave family and friends in restaurants to do those controls and all because I believed in the anti-doping system. But now I don't."



It has been reported only a minute trace of clenbuterol was in Contador's system and the rider said rules must be revised.



He added: "I think the anti-doping bodies have to reconsider a rule that is obsolete.



"A rule that was done many years ago when you didn't have the systems that we have now to analyse small amounts of substances, quantities that don't affect once performance.



"In my case, it didn't help me achieve the win at the Tour De France.



"If nothing is done, there will continue to be false positives. "What is going to happen to me and to other sportsmen that are in the same position as myself? As long as this change does not take place, there will never be an honest and fair sport."





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