Spanish Cycling Chief Hopes Alberto Contador Will be Cleared
Spanish Cycling Federation will begin examining the case this week.
The head of the Spanish cycling federation is hopeful that Tour de France champion Alberto Contador will be cleared of doping in what is expected to be a drawn-out investigation.
The International Cycling Union asked the Spanish body on Monday to open disciplinary proceedings against the three-time Tour winner, who has been provisionally suspended.
"Personally, as the president of the cycling federation, I hope it's resolved in favor of the athlete. Not only for the benefit of the cyclist, but it would be good for cycling," Juan Carlos Castano told Spanish national radio late Monday night. "I've know him sine he was very young ... and I can't help but feel this empathy with Alberto Contador."
Contador - one of only five cyclists to win road cycling's three Grand Tours - risks losing his Tour title and facing a two-year ban.
Castano said the UCI's delay in providing documents had created doubts over the "complicated" case, which the 27-year-old cyclist claims came from contaminated meat.
"What's clear is this will be a complicated case due to all the documents we've received from the UCI," Castano said. "Usually once the results are known in the laboratory they are immediately sent to the Spanish federation's committee to open the case. This has taken three months and has created a lot of doubts in all senses."
Castano said the RFEC's four-person disciplinary committee will begin discussing the case on Wednesday. Spanish law gives the committee three months to reach a verdict before the case is turned over to Spain's national anti-doping agency. At that point, the UCI could also take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The UCI has submitted six times the normal amount of documents for the case, Castano said, while Contador's team had also submitted a high number of documents in his defense.
On Tuesday, Castano attempted to cut out any notion that Contador would receive favorable treatment.
"If Alberto has made a mistake then he will have to assume his responsibility because the competition committee will not show any favorable treatment because it's Contador," Castano said. "The rules will be applied and we'll try to be fair."
Castano expects the case to drag into the Court of Arbitration for Sport regardless of the outcome. The UCI, the World Anti-Doping Agency or Contador can go to CAS if unhappy with the outcome.
The UCI announced in September that Contador had been provisionally suspended after his urine sample taken on the July 21 rest day contained "very small" traces of banned anabolic agent clenbuterol. The UCI did not mention alleged high levels of plastic residue found in Contador's sample, which scientists believe can indicate a rider has received a transfusion of his own blood.
Tour de France runner-up Andy Schleck stands to win the title if Contador is stripped.
"It doesn't really change anything. In one way it is good for cycling that it comes pretty quick," the Luxembourg rider told Belgium's VRT television network. "For me, I lost the Tour on the road and even if I stand in a few years in the books that I win the Tour, it is not like it will be a victory."
Contador, who won for the Kazakh-backed Astana team before signing with the Saxo Bank-SunGard team, has threatened to quit the sport regardless of the decision.
"The more time this takes the worst this is for everyone," Castano said, "and I think we've done a lot of damage to cycling during this time."
Spanish cyclists Ezequiel Mosquera and David Garcia are also being investigated after positive doping tests at this year's Vuelta a Espana.