Spaniard Alberto Contador continues in the Giro d'Italia despite a doping case pending in Switzerland next month. The three-time Tour de France winner failed a doping test last year and possibly faces a ban of up to two years.
Contador tested positive for banned drug, clenbuterol at last year's Tour de France. The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) acquitted him on February 15, but the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
He signed a contract to race with Saxo Bank-Sungard this year and next. He maintains his innocence and claims the positive result came from eating a contaminated steak bought in Irún, Spain.
"When I'm eating away from home," Contador told Italian Rai television yesterday, "everything from breakfast to dinner comes from the team."
Besides helping farmers with their livestock, athletes may use clenbuterol to lose weight and breathe easier. There are also reports that the drug may have entered Contador's system via a blood transfusion.
Several teams excluded their riders from the Giro d'Italia due to doping investigations: Movistar sidelined leader Marzio Bruseghin, and BMC Racing left home Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio. Saxo Bank, though, backs Contador and RFEC's acquittal decision.
"We know where his case is right now. Those who are not doing the Giro, it's a different story, what exactly it is, I don't know because I have not followed it, but what I know is that it's a different story," Saxo Bank's general manager, Bjarne Riis said before the race.
Cycling Weekly and a journalist with Dutch agency, NPA talked with Riis.
"We know what we have to deal with, right now he's cleared. There's an appeal [to CAS] and everyone knows what that means, but we don't know what the outcome will be."
CAS recently ruled in favour of the UCI and ordered Italian Franco Pellizotti to serve a two-year doping ban. It also ruled in favour of the UCI last year, forcing Spaniard to serve two years and stripping him of many of his wins.
Contador won the Giro in 2008 and the Tour in 2007, 2009 and last year, 2010. He risks losing his third Tour title and, if he wins this month, his second Giro title. Regardless, he and Saxo Bank race ahead.
"It's a different manner to race," Contador said yesterday of his case. "I am completed concentrated on this race. I am confident in the people who are working on the case."
The three-man CAS panel has been selected for the hearing. The CAS plans to hear his case in June ahead of the Tour de France.
CAS to make Contador decision before Tour de France
Pellizotti's two-year ban upheld
WADA appeals against Contador acquittal
UCI to appeal to CAS in Contador case
Contador now cleared of clenbuterol charges
Spanish media claims Contador could avoid ban
Contador could use 'Gasquet's Kiss' theory to back case
Contador says he will fight on despite provisional ban
UCI awaits final Spanish decision in Contador case
Contador tests positive for clenbuterol
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