UCI president Pat McQuaid put in an appearance at the start of stage two of the Tour of Oman on Wednesday, but with the press pack on his tail for a quote regarding the latest Alberto Contador ruling, it was more of a busman’s holiday than any kind of vacation.
“I can’t – and don’t want to – give a personal opinion until the whole affair is finished, and it’s not finished yet,” McQuaid said. “We still have to get the documents from the Spanish federation about their decision not to sanction Contador translated, and then we’ll discuss it with WADA.
“We’re yet to receive the full documentation, but once we get that we’ll have 30 days to decide whether we appeal or not,” he explained. If, as is likely, the UCI do appeal the Spanish cycling federation’s (RFEC) decision to acquit Contador, the case will be taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Should that happen, it may not be until just before the Tour de France – where Contador will be hoping to defend his title – that CAS reach a decision. “I would hope, and be fairly confident, that it will all be sorted out before the Tour – that we can go to CAS and CAS will understand that we need this [ruling] relatively quickly,” said McQuaid.
In the meantime, the rules say that Contador can race, McQuaid reiterated – which has seen Contador start his season at the Tour of the Algarve on the same day that McQuaid has spoken.
“For now, we have to move on,” conceded McQuaid. “We have to continue racing. There are good, clean riders racing, so we have to let them race. The large majority of them are clean and they deserve the support of everybody.”
McQuaid said that he had last spoken to Contador at the Eurobike trade show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, last September. “I haven’t spoken to him since then,” McQuaid confirmed. “We discussed the case then.”
He also claimed he would not be discussing the Contador case with Oman race organisers ASO, although it was clear that ASO – who also organise the Tour de France – would also appreciate a speedy resolution to help them to decide whether to invite Contador and his Saxo Bank squad in July.
“It is still possible that we might not appeal,” McQuaid added. “We have to wait and see the full dossier. We’ve just seen 35 pages – not the full dossier. We have also seen the reasoning of the [RFEC] committee, which had decided to originally hand out a one-year ban to Contador. But what we still haven’t yet seen is everything that’s been supplied by Contador’s people in the second period, so to speak.”
McQuaid confirmed that the entire document is rather hefty – “60 pages, I think” – but that it should only take a couple of days to get translated.
Regarding the circumstances surrounding the way that the RFEC’s decision was made in Spain, McQuaid didn’t hold back.
“I think it’s disappointing. It’s up to sport to police itself – it should be allowed to. I don’t think it should be interfered with by politicians who don’t know the full facts of cases, making statements, which are purely political statements. I think it’s unwarranted and doesn’t help. It doesn’t help the image of Spain, either. It shows they’re biased towards supporting their own, regardless of what the facts of the case might be.”
Asked whether he thought the politicians had affected the outcome of the federation’s decision, McQuaid replied: “Well, anyone could make that assumption. I’m not saying it did – not at all – and the Spanish federation claim it didn’t, but you can come to your own conclusions.”
McQuaid reiterated that there were proper processes and protocols to follow. “Politicians should stay out of it, and it’s unfortunate that they spoke at the weekend, at a time when the federation was obviously under pressure.
“At the end of the day, though, I don’t think we can blame the Spanish federation for anything. They’ve done a good job. We’ve been pleased with the work they’ve done. We just have to wait and see now what the eventual outcome is.”