Wiggins and others worried about Contador’s participation in Tour
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Wiggins and others worried about Contador’s participation in Tour

by Conal Andrews at 5:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Believe image of cycling could suffer due to unresolved doping case

Alberto ContadorCritérium du Dauphiné winner Bradley Wiggins is one of several who has voiced his concerns about Alberto Contador’s upcoming participation in the Tour de France.

Contador has won three editions of the race but risks losing his 2010 title due to a positive test for Clenbuterol on the second rest day. He faces an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport, lodged by WADA and the UCI after he was cleared by the Spanish federation RFEC in February.

It had been hoped that the appeal would be completed before the start of the Tour but this has now been postponed until August.

Wiggins said yesterday that he has mixed feelings about the Spaniard’s presence. “Personally, I am happy that he is there as it means that Saxo Bank will be doing everything to help him win,” he stated, according to AFP.

“Sportswise, though, it is not a good thing that a bloke who tested positive four times* is in the race. It is also bad for all those teams that are fighting to be clean as is the case with my team, Sky.”

Française des Jeux team director Marc Madiot hinted strongly that he was opposed, although he said that because his team had been invited to compete in the race, that he had to be careful. “In my case, I have no opinion on this for the simple reason that my team benefits from a "wild card", which means that my team is invited,” he told Cyclism’Actu. “If I was one of those with the right to take part, I could possibly have an opinion and a judgment.”

However he said that team managers and riders have the obligation to do the right thing for the sport, and that race organisers are also in a position to act to protect the image of the sport.

“First, there is already an ethical code. Everyone signed it, even Bjarne Riis. Teams must respect it. Then, in the Tour, we sign a contract with the organizer of the event which notifies that if someone or a team affects the image of the event, the organizer reserves the right to the excluded. In my opinion, it still exists, so it's possible.

“Finally, one last thing, Contador has the keys in hand. The rider can say, “this is perhaps not a good idea to go on the Tour because I am in a delicate situation;” I do not pass a judgement on whether the control is positive or negative. It can be said to him that it would be better that he sorts out his problems and then returns to racing when that is done.”

Europcar team manager Jean René Bernaudeau is also concerned about the situation. “I hope that the judgement will be confirmed in his favour if the image of cycling is [otherwise] going to suffer,” he said.

"It will further crystallize around him many obnoxious things for cycling, everything the bike does not need to regain credibility.”

Others have said that they are not bothered by his participation. Astana leader Alexandre Vinokourov was himself prevented from starting the race in 2006 due to Operacion Puerto, although he was not personally implicated. “He can race and win the Tour. It’s a pity for ASO. Personally, it does not bother me,” he told Radio Monte Carlo.

Contador’s former directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel told the same media outlet that he had a similar view. “He raced all year, he won the Giro. I do not see why it would not do the Tour de France.”

“It is a very tedious affair. First of all for him, but also for the Tour and for cycling,” he said. “It's a shame. For me, anyway, he has the benefit of doubt. This is a very complicated case and it takes so long. This is proof that this is not a very clear case, there are doubts. Until there is a clear decision, he has the right to race.”

The French public don’t see it that way. A recent poll carried out by the Alouette radio station revealted that 63 percent of French people are opposed to Contador’s participation. Just 12 percent don’t have an issue with him taking part. It remains to be seen if this will have an effect on the viewership next month, but whether or not he intentionally doped last year, the uncertainty of his situation seems certain to lead to negative headlines if he leads, or wins, the race.


* Note: Contador tested positive on more than one occasion during the Tour as the Clenbuterol substance takes several days to leave the system. It was considered a single positive test by authorities.

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