Spanish Cycling Federation absolves Contador of doping offense

09:51, February 16, 2011      

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Astana team rider and Tour de France winner Alberto Contador of Spain shows his yellow jersey to the crowd during an official welcoming ceremony in his hometown of Pinto, outside Madrid, July 26, 2010. Contador won the Tour de France for the third time on Sunday. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

The Spanish Cycling Federation ( RFEC) on Tuesday took the decision to officially absolve last year 's Tour de France winner Alberto Contador for supposed doping offenses.

The RFEC originally suspended Contador last month for a year after the rider had tested positive for the performance enhancing substance, Clembuterol, in a test carried out during last summer's Tour de France.

Contador won the Tour, the most important cycle race in the sport's calendar, to claim the third Tour win of his career. However, his triumph was short lived when his positive test was made public on August 23 last year.

The UCI, the governing body of World cycling, immediately suspended Contador, while the rider protested his innocence.

The Spaniard, who began his career in the Liberty Seguros team involved in the Operation Puerto doping scandal in 2006, explained that the minute quantities of clembuterol in his system had come as the result of having eaten steak brought out from the Basque town of Irun by a friend in the days before he was tested.

Clembuterol improves breathing and also helps build muscle mass, but can also be used to illegally bulk up cattle before slaughter. Consequently Contador's argument angered Spanish meat producers who said that tests on meat reared in the Basque country had found just one case of clembuterol contamination in the previous 10 years.

The RFEC took its original decision to suspend Contador on January 26, giving the rider 10 days to appeal, which he subsequently did. He even received the backing of Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and opposition leader, Mariano Rajoy.

Now the RFEC has accepted Contador's excuse that he must have ingested the clembuterol accidentally and overturned its original decision.

In theory Contador is now free to ride and could make his first appearance for the Saxo Bank team he joined last summer in the Tour of the Algarve, which begins on Wednesday.

Contador won the race last year and could look to repeat his triumph. However, the case is not yet over as the UCI or the World Anti Doping Commission, could now appeal against the RFEC's decision and in theory impose an even stricter sentence on the rider.

UCI President Pat McQuaid said in January that whatever the final verdict, Contador had damaged the sport and the fact is that many will now view any of the Spaniard's future successes with scepticism.

Source: Xinhua
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