PARIS, France (AFP) — Disgraced former 2010 Tour de France champion
Alberto Contador was on Tuesday braced to piece together his future as a
professional cyclist a day after being handed a two-year doping ban.
Considered the most gifted racer of his generation, Contador was handed a
two-year ban Monday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) following a
positive test for the banned substance clenbuterol.
Backdated to August 2010, when he announced the news of his positive test
weeks after his third yellow jersey triumph, the ban means Contador can return
to competition on August 6, 2012.
As well as ruling him out of this year’s Tour de France, the 29-year-old
from Pinto will also be stripped of his 2010 yellow jersey
which will now be handed to runner-up Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, among other wins.
Despite the possible lure of competing at the Tour of Spain in September, a
race Contador won in 2008, it is not yet known what plans Contador has for his future.
Two months after his positive test, the Spaniard, claiming he was the
victim of a contaminated steak eaten during the Tour de France, said he would
consider quitting if banned.
“If this is not resolved favourably and in just fashion then I would have
to consider whether I would ever get back on a bike,” Contador told Spanish
broadcaster Telecinco in October 2010.
If he is to find any kind of succour from the CAS decision, it is the fact
doping experts believe he did not ingest clenbuterol intentionally. They
deemed the Spaniard was likely a victim of a contaminated food supplement.
Reports from Spain late Monday, citing his brother and manager Fran,
suggested Contador would return to the sport — a possibility that can only
boost the hopes of his Saxo Bank team.
Run by Bjarne Riis, a former Tour de France winner who owned up to cheating
with drugs to win the race in 1996, Contador is the team’s marquee rider in
stage races. But more importantly, his WorldTour ranking points are crucial. Affiliation to the WorldTour series — via a system governed by ranking
points, financial viability and sound ethical principles — guarantees entry
to cycling’s biggest races.
On his own, Contador has racked up a massive amount of the points required
by the team for entry to the series — a fact that has not gone unnoticed by
the International Cycling Union (UCI).
The UCI said Monday said: “If we do not take into account the points
contributed by Contador, amounting to around 68 percent of his team’s total
points, Saxo Bank will no longer appear to satisfy the sporting conditions to
remain part of the WorldTour.”
While Contador outlines his future plans later Tuesday, the sport’s ruling
body will simultaneously be asking its licences commission to guage whether
Saxo Bank has the right to remain in the UCI WorldTour.