Spain could take months to reach decision in Alberto Contador’s doping case

Spain's cycling federation (RFEC) said it might take up to three months to decide whether to sanction Tour de France winner Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador news conference, Sept. 30, 2010
This could take a while

Spain’s cycling federation (RFEC) said it will take at least two months to decide whether to sanction Tour de France winner Alberto Contador for alleged doping violations, a Spanish newspaper reported Wednesday.

The final decision of the RFEC’s Competition Committee on the Spanish rider “will not be known before two months,” the federation’s chief, Juan Carlos Castaño, said in comments reported by the sports daily AS. The decision could even take three months, AS said.

“Everything depends on arguments that Contador will present and the checks that the Competition Committee will seek from neutral experts to look into the veracity of the evidence presented,” AS said.

Under the anti-doping rules of cycling’s interntional governing body, the UCI, the RFEC has a maximum of one month to deliver its decision.

The UCI “sets a rule of a one-month deadline to take a decision in doping cases … but under Spanish anti-doping rules, which is what will be followed, the authorized period is three months,” Castaño said.

Contador, 27, won his third yellow jersey in July, but it was later revealed that he tested positive for trace amounts of the banned substance clenbuterol during the second rest day of the Tour de France at Pau on July 21.

Contador claims he ate contaminated meat, although his critics suggest he may have inadvertently put clenbuterol ─ a weight-loss and muscle-building drug ─ back into his system via an illicit and performance-enhancing blood transfusion.

Provisionally suspended by the UCI, Contador’s future is hanging in the balance. If suspended for two years, he has threatened to quit the sport.

Contador, who also won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009, in August signed a two-year contract with the Saxo Bank team.

Andy Schleck, runner-up behind the Spaniard in the last two editions of the race, recently quit Saxo Bank, leading an exodus of talent to a new Luxembourg-based team.