Local residents in Alberto Contador’s hometown of El Pinto formed a human chain three kilometers long on Saturday in an act of support for the beleaguered Tour de France champion.
While Contador’s argument that he tested positive for clenbuterol during July’s Tour de France after eating contaminated meat is met with skepticism in some quarters, his neighbors in El Pinto, a satellite community one hour south of Madrid, firmly believe in his innocence.
Contador’s woes are having a major impact on the Spanish rider, so much so that he’s hinted at quitting cycling regardless of what happens in his controversial case. Contador tested positive for traces of clenbuterol and is awaiting a ruling from the UCI and WADA.
Contador’s mother confirmed that her son is considering leaving cycling.
“He says: ‘I’m thinking about quitting cycling when all of this ends. It’s not worth it,”‘ Velasco told The Associated Press. “What will he do? He doesn’t know.”
Velasco was among 500 people from Contador’s home town to turn out to support of the rider on Saturday. Velasco said she would support her son even if he decided to give up the sport.
Earlier this month, the local government hung a large yellow banner across the town hall in a gesture of solidarity for their beleaguered favorite son.
“This has to end well. If not, this would be horrible and one of the worst attacks on cycling there can be,” Velasco continued. “It’s undignified – there are few words in the dictionary that can define what’s happening to Alberto.”
Contador has kept a low profile since he gave a press conference earlier this month denying he doped en route to the 2010 Tour victory. Since then, he’s been quietly training and waiting to see how his case is resolved.
Earlier this week, UCI president Pat McQuaid called for patience in the Contador case, calling it complicated and said WADA needs time to dig through the evidence before making a recommendation on what do with the three-time Tour winner.
He faces a two-year ban and disqualification of the 2010 Tour victory if found guilty.
Contador also confirmed he would not appear at a criterium at the end of this month or in any other event until possible doping allegations have been resolved.
Officials from the Criterium Cuidad de Oviedo were quoted by several Web sites confirming Contador’s presence at the event planned for Oct. 30, but that was denied Friday during the official presentation of the race expected to draw several top Spanish cycling stars.
“Alberto Contador will not participate at the second Criterium Cuidad de Oviedo, prioritizing his desire to maintain a rigorous and respectful inactivity while the UCI takes a decision about his case,” read a statement released by organizers Friday.
Spanish cycling officials, however, said they have still not received confirmation from the UCI on Contador’s temporary ban and said he’s “free to compete” until they hear otherwise.