Alberto Contador Press Conference: Spaniard considers appeal, vows to return
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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Alberto Contador Press Conference: Spaniard considers appeal, vows to return

by Shane Stokes at 2:43 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
Riis pledges to stand by his rider and says there’s no indications of doping

alberto contadorInsisting once again on his innocence and saying that he was stunned by the sentence handed down to him yesterday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, Alberto Contador has vowed to return to the sport as strong as before. He also raised the possibility that he and his legal team could appeal the decision to the Swiss courts.

“We are working hard with my lawyers, analysing every possibility,” he told a packed press conference in his home town of Pinto, near Madrid. “As I have said in a previous press conference, I’ll fight until the end to demonstrate my innocence. Until the end, we will look at all possibilities.”

Contador was yesterday deemed at fault in relation to the Clenbuterol that was detected in his system during the 2010 Tour de France. He has fought the case as one being caused by contaminated meat, something he argued he was blameless about and therefore didn’t deserve to be sanctioned.

However yesterday CAS ruled that a tainted supplement was a more likely cause and because of that, the rules of strict liability applied.

The Saxo Bank rider had his results since the 2010 Tour stripped from his palmares, including the Tour victory plus his win in the 2011 Giro d’Italia, and also has been given a backdated suspension that will run until August 5th.

“It is a massive suspension, two years, and all the victories in that period,” he said, while adding that the results are not his highest priority. “I am not a rider who rides to enhance my palmares, particularly. I want to leave good memories for the fans and having the satisfaction of doing my work well.

“Every single victory I have had is not just mine, but gives memories to others…they are the only ones who can say if I am a winner or not.”

Thanking those who have supported him thus far, the fans, his team, the sponsors and others, he said that backing has made the difference for him in helping him cope. “I have had so much support and that has been incredibly important for me. I had nightmarish months where I couldn’t sleep, months when I wanted to go home rather than ride a bike, and it has all helped,” he stated.

Contador said he would continue to draw on that support in the six months he will be away from cycling. “Even though my morale is pretty low at the moment, I will come back as strong as before,” he vowed.

Riis stands by his man:

Team manager Bjarne Riis preceded Contador’s statement with one of his own. He sat to the rider’s left side, with the Spaniard’s translator Jacinto Vidarte on the right, speaking into the same cluster of multicoloured microphones which surrounded the rider.

He stated by speaking about the duration of the whole process, and continued to talk about the result and what would come next.

“I think all of us here today can agree this case has gone on for far too long, and it has been harmful to both the world of cycling, our team and to Alberto Contador,” he began. “Obviously putting this case to an end is something we have been looking forward to for a long time. We are looking forward to when we can start to have an influence on things again.”

Riis and Contador had both presented an impression of confidence about the process but, in the end, things didn’t work out as they expected. “I had hoped for another result,” Riis confirmed today. “We have asked ourselves many times if we could have done anything at all differently, but the answer is no. I really don’t think we could have done things differently to what we have done, and still be able to look at ourselves in mirror.

“We [Saxo Bank] inherited this case and had to wait for final decision. All along we did nothing but follow rules. Alberto was cleared in the first place, and was free to ride. Now we have the CAS ruling and as it was the case with the first ruling, we will have to respect it…we will of course act accordingly to this.”

Some have suggested that the Dane should drop the rider, with his positive test and also the fact that he won’t be able to earn world ranking points for two years after his return as reasons to find another team leader. Riis insists otherwise, saying that his squad will stand by the Spaniard now and in the future.

“Today I would like to say that we as a team, supported by all our sponsors, will continue to fully support Alberto based on the ruling from CAS. That ruling states that it is very unlikely that this is anything to do with conscious cheating. It said that the most likely reason is the accidental intake of a supplement…this is very important for us, so our trust in Alberto is still 100 percent intact.”

Contador says he’s stunned by verdict, insists he’s clean:

Following Riis’s thoughts, Contador gave his own long statement on the matter. He spoke about his emotional state now and since the positive test was confirmed.

“The truth is that I am very disappointed,” he said. “My dreams have collapsed. My morale is very confused. More than a year and a half ago this all started. There’s not been one morning where I haven’t asked myself how I got into this situation. It has been a very hard year, and I don’t whish this situation on anyone.

“There has been speculation, things said every day. The hardest thing for me is how it has affected my family. Everybody has been saying that I am guilty of something that is totally against my own moral standpoint, so there’s a feeling of injustice.

“The final verdict is totally against what I think about in this sport. I can’t understand it at all.”

Contador has been very involved in his defence, attending each day of the CAS hearing but also working on the case with his lawyers in the months beforehand. He believes that he couldn’t have done more.

“I have done everything possible that I could do to show that I was innocent,” he insisted. “I have gone though everything. I have spent hours upon hours answering all the questions, doing that two days before the Giro d’Italia. If there’s anything more I could have said, tell me what it is because I will do it.”

Contador became quite animated at that point, emphasising his words with a raised voice and also gestures. He then added that despite the strain, he feels good about himself. “The feeling I have got left inside me is a feeling of some sort of satisfaction, really,” he stated. “I feel that whatever verdict actually came, it is clear to me myself that I wasn’t doping.

“I find it particularly difficult when you try to explain that, because the quantity of Clenbuterol is so minute that it would never change the performance. It is possible that it is a food contamination of one sort or another. When the verdict came out, it showed there was no intention on my side.”

WADA and the UCI worked to fight his initial clearing from the RFEC, and managed to convince CAS that he was at fault for what happened. Contador was asked if he felt that there was somebody out to get him.

“There are many things that I could say, but it is a decisions that each of you will have to judge on this verdict,” he said. “This is going to follow me for many, many years. I do not really want to consider if somebody has a vendetta.”

Asked about the UCI’s stance in the matter, his body language hinted at either frustration or anger. His words were neutral, though. “I don’t want to enter into any polemics,” he answered. “There is a process that we are in right now…I don’t really want to answer too many more questions on this.

“I am not an expert. There are many things that I cannot understand about this sentence, but at this moment I want to keep them to myself.”

The conference ended up with Contador appealing to those present – presumably speaking to the journalists – to follow up what has been done thus far.

“I think it is very important that people need to work on this. What has happened to me, I don’t want to happen to anybody else,” he said. “A year and a half of a nightmare for a sanction. Please, for the good of every sportsman, this has to be faster…it cannot last as long as it has done.”

In truth all parties contributed to the delays which were seen, each helping to drag things out for over a year and a half. Most observers would agree, though; the case dragged out far too long, and caused a lot of doubt and damaged to the sport.


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