UCI officials told VeloNews that they “recognize and accept” the decision to postpone Alberto Contador’s clenbuterol hearing, yet at the same time confirmed they are pushing that his comeback results since February, including his recent Giro d’Italia victory, be annulled if he is found guilty in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Contador’s day in court before CAS has been pushed back until early August, opening the door for a likely participation in July’s Tour de France, but the stakes will be even higher as the UCI seeking a strict application of anti-doping rules if CAS hands down a racing ban.
“The UCI, in accordance with existing anti-doping rules, has asked for the disqualification of all results made between the day of the control (in the 2010 Tour) and the first day of a suspension, if there is one,” UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told VeloNews. “That is the general framework in which we work. That’s why our appeal mentions this option.”
Carpani cited two articles in the anti-doping language. The first, Article 10.8 in the World Anti-Doping Code; and the second, Article 313 of the UCI’s anti-doping rules; both outline that results obtained from an positive doping case to any disciplinary guilty ruling can be annulled.
Carpani said that the UCI is pushing for a strict interpretation of the rules and suggested that CAS can make its own decision at the time of any possible ruling against Contador.
“CAS has the ultimate authority to rule its interpretation,” he said. “We would be ready to accept any decision by CAS.”
If CAS does rule against Contador and applies the rules as requested by the UCI, Contador stands to lose overall titles and stage victories as well as prize money he’s won since he returned to racing in mid-February, when the Spanish cycling federation cleared him on doping charges.
Contador returned to the Volta ao Algarve, where he did not win a stage or the overall, but won two stages and the overall at the Vuelta a Murcia in early March. Next, he won a stage at the Vuelta a Castilla y Leon before taking another stage and the overall title at the Volta a Catalunya in late March. In May, he won two stages and the points jersey en route to overall victory at the Giro last week. Contador has won eight races so far in 2011.
Carpani admitted that the UCI finds itself between a rock and a hard place concerning Contador’s status and said that the UCI’s legal team has decided to push for strict application of all rules in the complicated case. Contador has a valid UCI-issued license since the Spanish federation cleared him on charges, creating a legal quandary while the slow wheels of sport justice roll toward a final decision.
“Right now, Mr. Contador is not guilty. He has been acquitted by the Spanish federation, so there is no reason to suspend him or prevent him from racing,” Carpani said. “The UCI and WADA are within our rights to appeal. And we are waiting for the results of the CAS decision. Only a guilty rider can be taken out of competition. It could be difficult for some people to understand, but that’s the framework that we must work within right now.”
The president of the Spanish cycling federation, Carlos Castano, has suggested that the UCI is wrong in its interpretation and that Contador’s comeback results would stand even if he’s banned for his 2010 Tour clenbuterol positive.
Two independent sources have suggested to VeloNews that Contador’s current results would stand even if CAS rules against him for the 2010 clenbuterol case. One scenario is that if CAS rules against Contador, he would be disqualified from the 2010 Tour as well as given a discount of “time served” from the end of the 2010 Tour to his return in February, but his results since mid-February would stand. CAS could push for a harsher sentence, including a full, two-year ban starting at the point of any CAS ruling in August as well as the disqualification of not only the 2010 Tour but his subsequent results as well.
CAS could also rule, of course, that Contador is innocent of the charges and his 2010 victory would stand.
“Justice takes time,” Carpani said of the ongoing legal wrangling. “This should be viewed as a guarantee that it’s a fair process. We can also understand that this extension could be considered a problem for certain people who would like to see resolution much quicker. All parties were in agreement to extend the hearing.”
Contador, meanwhile, seems intent on racing as long as he can. The Spanish rider vehemently denies doping and says he’s only guilty of eating contaminated steak that he didn’t screen for the presence of clenbuterol. Contador returned to his hometown of Pinto on Monday to a hero’s welcome following his dominant Giro victory. While he hasn’t made an official decision on whether or not he’ll start the Tour, his brother and manager, Fran, suggested that he will likely race in July.
“I believe in the end he will race (the Tour),” Fran Contador said on MARCA Radio in Spain. “Right now, Alberto is only thinking about resting both mind and body after the Giro. He would only not race the Tour if he feels he’s not up to it physically.”