In what may be wishful thinking or perhaps a sign that there’s something brewing, Alberto Contador is registered to start the Vuelta a Murcia in early March in Spain.
The Spanish wires were alight Christmas night with news that Contador has been listed as one of the starting riders for Saxo Bank-Sungard for the Murcia tour, set for March 4-6 along Spain’s Mediterranean coast.
According to a report on the Spanish wire service EFE, race organizers confirmed that Contador’s name is on the Saxo Bank roster. Others include Lucas Sebastián Haedo and Jesús Hernández.
Due to the late hour in Europe, VeloNews could not independently confirm the news.
Whether that’s just a procedural matter by Saxo Bank brass or a gesture of solidarity for its embattled star remains to be seen.
Teams will often send names to race organizers simply to fill in a rough draft of what races athletes might participate only to see the final rosters altered due to injuries, illnesses and other changes in racing schedules. Teams are also required to register riders at least 20 days before the start of an event.
The appearance of Contador’s name on the preliminary start list, however, could be a sign that there may be news coming soon for the Contador camp.
The Spanish rider is anxiously waiting to hear his fate ever since he was temporarily banned from racing after testing positive for traces of clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour de France. He blames the positive test on contaminated steaks.
Contador’s press attaché Jacinto Vidarte told VeloNews on Thursday that they don’t know when a decision would be forthcoming from a four-member panel empowered by the Spanish cycling federation to review his case. An interview with the Spanish cycling federation president last week suggested a decision wouldn’t be likely until mid-January.
But perhaps Contador received a hint that there could be good news coming down the pipe.
Contador suddenly “reappeared” on his Twitter account Friday after a three-week silence and sounded optimistic in the three messages he posted, promising that 2011 would be “HISTORIC” (his emphasis).
“Hello, long time — this will not be my best Christmas or the quietest. I hope that in 2011, coherence, ethics and truth will prevail to do justice,” Contador wrote. Also thanking his teammates at Saxo Bank-Sungard, he added: “Next year will be HISTORIC. Querer es poder (where there’s a will, there’s a way), Merry Christmas.”
If the Spanish cycling federation were to clear Contador, however, it likely wouldn’t be the end of the story. Both the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency can appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, a process that would likely drag on for months.
In what’s a clear sign of what Contador can likely expect, WADA recently filed motions to appeal a decision to the German table tennis association to not ban Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who also claimed he triggered a false clenbuterol positive after eating meat on a trip to China.