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Alberto Contador staying focused on racing in run-up to CAS

VALLADOLID, Spain (VN) – Alberto Contador says he is staying focused on racing and leaving his pending legal battle in the hands of his advisors and legal team.

Contador is racing this week at the Vuelta a Castilla y León, which he’s trying to win for the fourth time in five years, and insists that he won’t be distracted by his clenbuterol case set to be decided in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“I am very concentrated on the racing. I try to enjoy them and that’s what I am doing. I am not focusing on CAS. That’s for my brother, Fran, and my lawyers,” Contador told AS. “It doesn’t do me any good to worry about it. I cannot do anything except do the best I can in every race I start. In this sense, I am very motivated. My results have been very good, both in Murcia and Catalunya, and I have received a lot of backing from the fans.”

While Contador keeps his mind on his bike, his legal team continues to prepare for the CAS hearing. Officials at the international sport court promise a decision before the start of the 2011 Tour de France.

Contador’s legal team, led by Gorka Villar, son of the president of the Spanish soccer federation, recently named its representative to the three-member panel to preside over his case before CAS.

Each protagonist in the case has a right to nominate one member of the panel. The UCI and WADA, which both appealed the Contador case, have selected Quintin Bryne-Sutton, while CAS will choose the third member in the coming days.

According to a report in El País, two others turned down the nomination until Contador’s third choice – German Ulrich Haas – would accept, causing a week’s delay in the proceedings. Ulrich is a professor of law based in Zurich with a thick dossier of CAS experience.

According to El País, Haas has worked on two panels that ruled on clenbuterol cases. The first was American swimmer Jessica Hardy, who was banned for one year. The other, Polish kayaker Adam Seroczynski, was handed a two-year ban despite arguing he ate contaminated meat during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

Officials close to Contador say he consults with his legal team, but is not spending much time on the details of the arguments.

Since being cleared by the Spanish cycling federation in mid-February, Contador has decided to put his energy in racing and prepare for his first major goal of the season, the Giro d’Italia.

“There’s nothing more for him to say publicly on the case that he hasn’t said already. He’s focusing on racing and preparing for the Giro,” Contador’s spokesman Jacinto Vidarte told VeloNews. “He is free to race because a tribunal has declared him innocent, so there’s nothing stopping him. We’re also confident that CAS will rule in our favor, just as the Spanish panel did.”

Vidarte said Contador is coming into Castilla y León off a week’s training camp in southern Spain, but is feeling the effects of a minor cold he got over the weekend.

“Winning here will be more complicated than in the past years. It will be similar to the year that Leipheimer beat him in 2009. The climbing stage (Friday) isn’t that hard and the time trial (Sunday) isn’t that long,” Vidarte said. “He’s where he was at Murcia and Catalunya, where he was able to win. There’s a lot of tough competition here, so we will see.”

Contador will race next at Flèche Wallonne on April 20 and then head to Italy to preview some of the decisive Giro stages ahead of the start in Torino on May 7.

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