Wednesday’s news that Alberto Contador is facing a one-year ban and disqualification of the 2010 Tour de France is hardly the end of the story.
The major question mark is whether or not the decision will be appealed. Contador, the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency all have the right to challenge the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Contador’s legal team is studying its options and will likely reveal its intentions in a press conference Friday, when Contador will speak publicly about the ongoing doping scandal for the first time in months. Saxo Bank-Sungard manager Bjarne Riis will also be there.
“We have not made a decision yet. The legal team is considering its options,” Contador spokesman Jacinto Vidarte told VeloNews. “One thing that’s frustrating with this process is how long it takes. Even if you appeal, the process might take longer than the actual ban.”
Contador’s legal team also has 10 days to respond to the Spanish cycling federation before the proposed ban is officially registered.
Whether or not the UCI and WADA will let the ruling stand will be seen in the coming weeks. An appeal would likely come from WADA, which has consistently challenged doping sanctions which it feels are too lenient. There is a 30-day window on filing an appeal.
UCI president Pat McQuaid told AFP it still has not received any official word from the Spanish authorities.
“We have received no official documenation from the Spanish authorities on this proposal,” UCI president Pat McQuaid told AFP in a telephone call. “Once we receive documentation from the RFEC it will be sent to our legal and anti-doping departments. Only then can we begin to start preparing our response. But I don’t want to comment on what our position is, or how long this process will take.”
Contador’s team will likely question when a ban would begin. Contador was not officially notified until August 24, meaning that a one-year ban would preclude him from starting the 2011 Vuelta a España, which starts August 20 in Benidorm.
Contador has not raced since the end of the 2010 Tour and his legal team will likely argue that a ban should be pegged to the last day he raced, especially in light of their arguments that the clenbuterol entered his body unknowingly.
If the ban and disqualification stand, there’s the messy business of readjusting the standings of the 2010 Tour. Race officials could not be reached for comment Thursday, but Andy Schleck would be bumped up to the winner, Denis Menchov as runner-up and Samuel Sánchez elevated from fourth to the podium.
And what about Contador’s threats to quit the sport if he’s banned?
Contador seems to be backtracking from those comments, made in the first few days of learning about his devastating positive.
“I am planning my season with complete normality, that’s the only way to handle this,” Contador was quoted Wednesday by the Spanish wires. “I am motivated, I am concentrated on my work. I think the best thing to do right now is to detach myself from all that’s going on around you and focus on your work, that’s what’s going to pay off in the future.”