RELATED: UCI Press Release
After reviewing evidence in the case, the UCI confirmed Monday that it has asked the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) to open disciplinary proceedings against Tour de France winner Alberto Contador for an apparent positive for clenbuterol.
“At the end of a long and meticulous enquiry entrusted to highly qualified, WADA-accredited experts, and considering all the information currently in its possession, the UCI has concluded that disciplinary proceedings should be opened against Alberto Contador,” the governing body noted in a statement released on Monday. “The UCI has today sent its request to the Spanish Federation that has competence in this regard. It is now the responsibility of this Federation to determine whether Alberto Contador has breached the UCI Anti-Doping Rules.”
“In the meantime, until the end of the proceedings and despite his provisional suspension, Alberto Contador still benefits from a presumption of innocence,” the statement added.
The Spanish federation now has two days to notify Contador of a hearing date, which must be held within a month, with the decision expected before the end of the year.
The 27-year-old Contador 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 continues to claim he ate contaminated meat, although skeptics 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.
Contador’s side reacted calmly to the news.
“It is the normal procedure, indeed one that we hoped for, that the Spanish Federation would decide on the case,” said Jacinto Vidarte, chief press officer for Contador.
“Contador will be able to present all the documentation and demonstrate that it was a case of contaminated food.”
The RFEC announced later in a statement that it would act with the utmost haste to take care of the matter.
“The anti-doping department of the UCI transferred to us all the documentation with regard to this affair, requesting the opening of a disciplinary procedure as according to the anti-doping regulations laid down by the UCI,” it said.
“As with immediate effect and in accordance with the sport’s international rules, the RFEC will undertake all the necessary action to cast light on and resolve the questions raised by the positive test of the rider.”
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.
While Contador may be hanging his hopes on a favorable treatment by the RFEC, the UCI reserves the right to appeal any decision to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport if it deems the outcome to be inappropriate.
If Contador were to be sanctioned he would be stripped of this year’s Tour de France crown with the title going to Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck, who finished runner-up for the second straight year behind Contador.
However in the case of American Floyd Landis, stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping, Spaniard Oscar Pereiro was only officially declared winner fourteen months later. Even that decision wasn’t confirmed until just a month prior to the 2008 Tour, when Landis lost his final appeal to the International Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Contador, who also won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009, is slated to leave the Astana team at year’s end and hopes to continue his career as a member of Schleck’s old Saxo Bank team.