VENARIA REALE, Italy (VN) – Alberto Contador says he’s not letting his ongoing clenbuterol case distract his attention coming into the Giro d’Italia and defended his right to be lining up for Saturday’s start of the season’s first grand tour.
Riders from some teams have been left out of the Giro d’Italia due to unsettled questions on possible links to doping, including BMC’s Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Satambrogio and riders from Lampre, but Contador said his case is different.
“I don’t what the situation is with those other riders, but my situation is different,” Contador said during a press conference Friday. “I know what’s going on in my case. I have been cleared and I am hopeful for a favorable ending. You cannot make comparisons between those cases and mine.”
Contador is back at the Giro for the first time since winning the maglia rosa in 2008, but starts the race under controversial conditions with his ongoing clenbuterol case from last year’s Tour de France still unresolved.
Contador has been officially cleared to race since mid-February when the Spanish cycling federation ruled in his favor. Both the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency appealed that decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
CAS officials have said they hope to rule on the caso Contador before the start of the Tour in July, but certainly will not before the Giro is completed. CAS could confirm the Spanish federation’s decision or ban him up to two years and disqualify him from the 2010 Tour title.
On Friday, Contador said all he can do is focus on the Giro and hope that the sport court agrees with his argument that traces of clenbuterol were found in his system after eating contaminated meat.
“I prefer not to think about that and I am only concentrated on the sporting aspect right now,” Contador told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “The case before CAS is moving forward, but I have full confidence in the people that are working for me and that they can achieve a favorable result.”
Contador said he’s back at the Giro in part because of his case, but he also said he hopes to race the Tour de France as well.
“It is possible to do both. I am also thinking of the Tour as well,” he said. “But now I am at the Giro and I am not thinking about anything else.”
Contador is also trying to take pressure off himself and direct it toward Vincenzo Nibali as the top favorite for victory as Giro begins Saturday with a team time trial in Torino.
The Spanish rider says it’s the Italians who have to carry the weight of the race despite heavy pressure on Contador to win the Giro.
“Others have more pressure than me, like Vicenzo Nibali or Michele Scarponi. Also, Geox with Menchov. It’s their big race of the year. They have more pressure than me,” Contador said. “All riders try to put pressure on others and in this case it’s me. In 2009, with Lance Armstrong on the same team, I had the pressure. Now everyone is expecting me to win, but I come to this Giro with a different mindset. I am very excited and motivated, but I will take it day by day.”