Photo: Stripped of 2010 Tour de France Title, Cyclist Alberto Contador Will Not Quit
Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador told reporters here Tuesday he plans to remain in professional cycling and that he will fight the suspension imposed on him by the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport in a doping case that dates from July 2010.
The multiple Tour de France winner held a press conference at the Hotel Las Artes in his native Pinto, a town 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Madrid.
Facing dozens of television cameras and more than 100 reporters, the Spanish racer began by saying he had an enormous feeling of disappointment and disillusion.
Contado recalled that the case began more than 18 months ago “and there’s not a single morning I don’t ask myself how I got in this fix.”
“I wouldn’t wish it on anyone,” he said. “It’s been a real calvary. The suffering of my family, of my wife, of all my people…and besides, what they accuse me of is something that goes against all that was ever instilled in me: justice, discipline, honesty.”
The cyclist has expressed his “total disagreement” with the sanction imposed by the CAS and said that “however much I try, I can’t understand it.”
The CAS imposed a two-year suspension on the Spaniard, but the sanction applies retroactively to Jan. 25, 2011, and is reduced by nearly six months for the provisional suspension Contador served last year.
He will be able to return to competition on Aug. 5, 2012, the CAS said.
Contador has a period of 30 days to appeal to Switzerland’s federal court, but unless the suspension is overturned, he will miss both the 2012 Tour de France and the London Olympics.
The CAS also stripped the Spaniard of his titles in the 2010 Tour de France and 2011 Giro d’Italia.
“In these months I’ve done everything possible, all that’s in my power, to show my innocence. I even took a polygraph test, five hours answering questions as if I were a criminal, just two days before the Giro (d’Italia). And all that to get this final suspension,” Contador said Tuesday.
Nonetheless, he said he has a certain feeling of “satisfaction,” because “anyone who reads the (CAS) decision will see clearly that I didn’t take dope.”
Contador, who won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009, tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug clenbuterol on the way to his victory in the 2010 Tour. He said he inadvertently consumed the substance by eating contaminated meat.
The cyclist was cleared of wrongdoing by Spain’s cycling federation on Feb. 15, but the World Anti-Doping Agency and the International Cycling Union appealed the ruling to the Lausanne-based CAS, which finally heard the case last November.
After months of deliberation, the CAS rejected Contador’s explanation of how the clenbuterol ended up in his system, concluding that the cyclist consumed a contaminated nutritional supplement.
Yet the CAS also dismissed allegations that Contador had engaged in blood doping.
Contador told the media on Tuesday he intends to compete as a professional cyclist “for several more years” and that he will continue practicing “in a clean way as I did all my life.”
The racer said his attorneys are working on the possibility of appealing the CAS ruling to the Swiss federal court and that he told his legal team “we have to keep going until the end” to try and get the suspension revoked.