|Contador has threatened to end his remarkable racing career if found guilty [GALLO/GETTY]|
Alberto Contador is set to lose one of his three Tour de France titles after being banned for two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Monday for failing a dope test during the 2010 race.
Contador, the Tour winner in 2007, 2009 and 2010 who tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol, also faces losing his 2011 Giro d’Italia title and all the other victories he claimed last season.
“First of all I feel sad for Alberto. I always believed in his innocence. This is just a very sad day for cycling”
Rival Andy Schleck
Contador, who has 30 days to appeal to the Swiss federal court, is to hold a news conference on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
The Spaniard’s Tour title will be handed to Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck, with Bradley Wiggins becoming the first Briton to climb on to the podium and Russian Denis Menchov finishing second.
“There is no reason to be happy now”, Schleck said in a statement.
“First of all I feel sad for Alberto. I always believed in his innocence. This is just a very sad day for cycling. The only positive news is that there is a verdict after 566 days of uncertainty. We can finally move on.
“I battled with Contador in that race and I lost. My goal is to win the Tour de France in a sporting way, being the best of all competitors, not in court. If I succeed this year, I will consider it as my first Tour victory.”
Italy’s Michele Scarponi is set to take the Giro 2011 title.
“Alberto Contador is sanctioned with a two-year period of ineligibility starting retroactively on 25 January 2011, minus
the period of provisional suspension served in 2010-2011 (5 months and 19 days),” CAS said in a statement.
“The suspension should therefore come to an end on 5 August 2012.”
The ban means that the 29-year-old Contador, who had threatened to end his career if found guilty, will miss this year’s Tour de France and the London Olympic Games.
“In rejecting the defence argument, in particular that the presence of clenbuterol in Alberto Contador’s urine sample came from the consumption of contaminated meat, today’s ruling confirms the UCI’s position,” the International Cycling Union (UCI), who had appealed with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the Spanish federation’s decision to clear Contador, said in a statement.
Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) president Juan Carlos Castano said of the CAS decision: “We are obliged to comply with it but we don’t agree with it.
“It’s very bad news for Spanish sport,” he said on national radio.
“For us this journey has ended.”