By Gregor Brown
Spain's Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) met and spoke face-to-face with the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) that investigated cycling's doping problems from the 1990s onwards, although he was not listed in its report published on Monday.
"It was something interesting to do," Contador said during a press conference ahead of the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race.
"In my case, they contacted me, I was happy to have collaborated with with them, to work with them, in the sport that I love and have passion for."
Chris Froome was the only active rider listed along with 15 former professionals in the report published on Monday. Others were able to speak to CIRC and ask that their names not be listed.
Contador has won all three grand tours, including two editions of the Tour de France. He lost his 2010 Tour title due to a doping case. He did not clarify when he spoke in the press conference on Tuesday in Lido di Camaiore, Italy, if he asked CIRC that he could remain anonymous in its published report.
Days before the report surfaced, Sky's Froome said that he spoke with the commission at the end of the 2014 season.
"[I] spent a good few hours with them," he told the Daily Mail. "Just talking about the state of the sport and how, from a rider's point of view, they can try to improve on things."
Froome joined the list of cyclists that included Lance Armstrong, Riccardo Riccò and Nicole Cooke. Contador's response, however, indicated that many more athletes might have spoken under the promise of privacy.
The report focused on cycling's EPO-era through 2007, and most of it centred on the greatest cheat the sport's ever seen: Lance Armstrong. His cosy relationship with the UCI's former bosses was revealed in 228 pages released by the commission on Monday. Contador also featured.
The commission noted how cycling's governing body treated the Spaniard from Madrid's outskirts differently than other cyclists by calling him in after it heard that his samples from the 2010 Tour indicated he took a banned drug. It could have, as in most other cases, announced the positive case immediately. The CIRC report read: "The same rules and procedures should have applied to Alberto Contador as to all riders irrespective of his ranking and status."
Contador eventually served a ban and was stripped of titles, including his 2010 Tour and 2011 Giro d'Italia wins.
"The headlines surprised me, as if there had been... something new about the UCI, as if it came out as something new, when it was all old news. How the UCI acted is an old story, everyone already knows it," Contador added. "I hope that this can help that cycling is on the way it is going now and that it's on the good way."
2014 Tour winner Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and classics champion Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) sat side-by-side with Contador in today's press conference ahead of the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race, but they seemingly held back in their responses and were less thorough.
"I haven't read anything in regards to... I don't know if someone else wants to say something... I think not," Nibali said. "I haven't read anything, I don't know what's said in it, I'm not informed."
"I can't say much about it, because I didn't read it, like Vincenzo. 200 pages... Maybe I can look at the 200 pages at the end of the season, haven't had time to yet," Cancellara said. "If you look to the future, it's good, but the journalists need to do the same thing, too."
Neither cyclist voluntary came forward like Contador to say that they wanted to or had met with the commission on cycling's doping problems.
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