Prudhomme says ASO won’t block Contador from Tour de France
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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Prudhomme says ASO won’t block Contador from Tour de France

by Shane Stokes at 4:32 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
 
Despite doping positive, Spaniard can compete in 2011 race

Alberto ContadorTour de France race director Christian Prudhomme has cleared the last obstacle to Alberto Contador competing in this year’s event, saying that organisers ASO won’t block the Spaniard’s participation in the race.

“One can only regret the time lag between the sports and media, and that of justice,” he told AFP.

“The proceedings are pending, the appeal doesn’t bring about a suspension, Contador has raced since the beginning of the season in Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Italy. He himself has not yet made his choice for the Tour [stating he’ll ride it – ed.] but no official body, neither the UCI nor WADA has objected to his participation in these races, nor do they objected to the postponement of the hearing. He can be at the start of the Tour.”

The delay is not only frustrating for Prudhomme, but also for fans of the sport. Contador was tested on the second rest day of last year’s Tour, was found positive for Clenbuterol in August, and the news was officially announced in September. On November 8th the UCI requested the Spanish federation RFEC open a disciplinary proceeding; under the UCI’s own rules, a decision should have been made within one month.

The governing body however relaxed its own deadlines for the RFEC, citing the complexity of the case, but itself caused a further delay when it didn’t respond in time to a request by the RFEC for additional feedback. A verdict was eventually given on February 15th, when the RFEC then decided to clear him outright. That was over two months later than the usual timeframe for doping cases.

The UCI then took the maximum permitted amount of time to lodge an appeal to CAS, confirming on March 14th that it would fight the decision.

CAS said that it would aim to have a decision made before this year’s Tour, setting a hearing date of June 4th to 6th, but Contador’s legal team requested an extension. This was accepted by the UCI and WADA, and as a result the appeal won’t be heard until the start of August.

Prudhomme regrets the delays and the fact that the Spaniard will be able to compete in the race, despite being under investigation for a doping offence in the previous edition. If CAS ultimately rules against him, he will lose his 2010 title. Were he to win the 2011 Tour, he would also be stripped of that victory.

“We have said repeatedly that it wanted a settlement before the 2011 edition,” Prudhomme told AFP. “It was only common sense but it was probably asking too much.”

Contador won the Giro d’Italia on Sunday, and has taken several other victories this year. Should he lose his appeal, those titles are also likely to be struck off.

The prospect of such a big name being disqualified from multiple events puts the UCI in a conflicted position. If it succeeds in its appeal before CAS, the sport’s biggest name will be blacked and cycling will suffer considerable negative publicity. Once again this illustrates the clash between being promoter and policeman of a sport.
 

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