Skip to main content

Contador says he has been cleared to ride

By Al Goodman, CNN
Contador celebrates his third win in the Tour de France but he failed a drugs test just four days before.
Contador celebrates his third win in the Tour de France but he failed a drugs test just four days before.
  • The rider's press office said he has been cleared of a doping charge
  • He blamed tainted meat for the drug clenbuterol in his system
  • The decision can be appealed

Madrid, Spain (CNN) -- Three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador has been cleared of a doping charge by Spain's cycling federation, the federation president and Contador's press office said Tuesday.

Spanish media began reporting late Monday that the federation would clear Contador, despite having tested positive during last summer's Tour de France, which he won, for a tiny amount of the banned substance clenbuterol.

Federation president Juan Carlos Castano told CNN that Contador was informed he had been cleared, and added the federation cannot publish the decision on its website due to Spain's law protecting confidential data on individuals.

"Alberto Contador has been officially cleared by the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation and has been authorized to return to competition immediately. If everything goes well, the rider will take the start, tomorrow (Wednesday) at the Volta ao Algarve" a race in southern Portugal, Contador's press office said in a statement, received by CNN.

Today is a day of justice, with mixed feelings between joy and sadness for all the damage in recent months
--Alberto Contador

Contador later gave his reaction on his Twitter blog, admitting his reputation had been sullied by the affair.

"Today is a day of justice, with mixed feelings between joy and sadness for all the damage in recent months. Leaves a mark!"

He added: "Thank you all because you are the ones who encouraged me when I was not and I hope to compensate it on the races."

Contador has maintained all along that the minute amount of clenbuterol was due to some meat tainted with the substance which he ate on a rest day last summer during the Tour.

Just last month, a federation investigator recommended that the competition committee issue a one-year ban, due to Contador's test sample. But since then, the committee has heard Contador's defense and has now decided to clear the rider, Castano said.

The Spanish federation's competition committee just last month proposed a one-year ban due to Contador's test sample, but has now reversed itself.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero last week said "there is no legal reason" to sanction Contador.

The Spanish federation, on its website, did issue a statement denying what it said were charges from various quarters in Spain that it had been pressured regarding Contador's case.

The International Cycling Union, the sport's world governing body, and the World Anti-Doping Agency have about a month to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, based in Switzerland, which would have the final word.

Cycling rules state there is a zero tolerance for clenbuterol, a weight loss and muscle building drug. It is "forbidden, independent of the quantity," UCI press officer Enrico Carpani told CNN earlier Tuesday.

The UCI would have been willing to "seriously" consider the Spanish cycling federation's earlier proposed one-year ban, given the circumstances, Carpani said.

As of a few weeks ago, the Spanish federation's competition committee had found that "Contador couldn't prove the meat was the main reason" for the clenbuterol in his system but the federation "couldn't prove any doping violation," so the proposed one-year ban was, at the time, seen as a proposal to be considered seriously, given that cycling rules call for a two-year ban if clenbuterol is found, UCI's Carpani said.

The Spanish federation based its decision to clear Contador on World Anti-Doping Agency rules on how to proceed in cases when "the rider has no responsibility" for testing positive for a banned substance, federation president Castano said.