Cycling: Muted reaction to Contador suspension

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The Independent Online

Rider reaction to overnight revelations that Alberto Contador failed a doping test while winning the Tour de France this year has been muted so far at the road cycling world championships.

World champion Cadel Evans of Australia, who finished second to Contador in the 2007 Tour, said he would reserve judgment on the Spaniard's case.

"I will wait until the final analysis is completed before I form an opinion," Evans said in a brief statement today.

A World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab in Cologne, Germany, found a "very small concentration" of the banned stimulant clenbuterol in Contador's urine sample on July 21 at the Tour, according to a statement from the UCI on Thursday.

UCI officials in Geelong refused to elaborate on the formal statement and attempts to speak to UCI president Pat McQuad were unsuccessful.

U.S. rider Tejay Van Garderen, who races with Dutch ProTour outfit Team HTC-Columbia, said he was surprised by the news of Contador's suspension.

"It's certainly not good for the sport, but I just found it strange with what it was for," Van Garderen said. "I've never heard of (clenbuterol) ... for something that obscure it could just be a contaminated substances, so maybe he'll be able to fight it."

Regardless of the substance or the outcome, Van Garderen said a doping story is bad for professional cycling.

"It's bad for the sport because it will drive sponsors away, but it's good for the sport because hopefully people start getting the message that it's not tolerated. And even big names are not above the law."

Contador did not travel to Geelong for the world championships, choosing instead to prepare for next year's professional season. Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck of Luxembourg also opted out of the event, as did many of Europe's top road cyclists.