Why Contador can return to racing in August

A two-year ban that ends just six months after it’s handed down?

ALCUDIA, Spain (VN) — A two-year ban that ends just six months after it’s handed down? Many people were scratching their heads Monday trying to figure out the math following the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ruling against Alberto Contador that will allow him to race again this season by August 6.

CAS has been consistently inconsistent in determining how and when it pegs the date of sanctions, and that story played out again in its decision Monday to ban the Spanish rider for two years and strip him of all results since the 2010 Tour de France.

The three-member panel handed down the maximum ban for Contador, but “discounted” him nearly six months for time he sat out in the wake of hearing the news that he tested positive for traces of clenbuterol in the 2010 Tour.

CAS pegged the start of the ban from January 25, 2011, the day that the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) initially decided to ban Contador for one year. RFEC later reversed its decision, allowing Contador to return to racing in mid-February last year, but CAS chose that January date to start Contador’s disqualification.

CAS also “discounted” five months and 19 days of the ban for the time that Contador was provisionally banned.

That calculation was made from August 26, 2010, when the UCI took steps to provisionally ban Contador, through February 14, 2011, when the RFEC absolved Contador and returned his racing license. Contador immediately returned to competition, starting the next day’s opening stage of the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal.

When it’s added up, the sanction will be 18 months and 11 days. Set to “begin” in January 25 last year, Contador’s ban will officially end August 5.

That comes with a very high price, however. First off, not only does he lose the 2010 Tour de France, but all other races he won during his comeback last year, including the 2011 Giro d’Italia as well as the Murcia and Catalunya stage race wins and a handful of other stage victories.

That means Contador’s third Tour, when he did test positive, and second Giro, when he passed 20 anti-doping controls, are equally erased from the record books.

Secondly, the ban will keep him not only out of this year’s Tour de France, but the 2012 Olympic Games in London as well.

Contador was hoping to improve on his fourth-place in the individual time trial in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, when he was knocked out of the medals by former teammate, Levi Leipheimer.

As the current ban reads now, Contador will be able to return to race such events as the Eneco Tour (August 6-12) or the Tour de l’Ain (August 7-11) and the Clásica San Sebastian (August 14) before a likely run at the Vuelta a España (August 18-September 9).

Another big goal would likely be the world championships in late September on a hilly course across Holland’s Limburg region. What a photo opportunity that would be: UCI president Pat McQuaid presenting a revenge-seeking Contador the rainbow jersey.

Complete coverage of Alberto Contador’s clenbuterol case