Cycling body to appeal Contador doping case

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By GRAHAM DUNBAR
The Associated Press
Thursday, March 24, 2011; 2:49 PM

GENEVA -- Alberto Contador's contaminated-beef defense will again be put to the test after cycling's governing body decided Thursday to appeal the Tour de France champion's doping acquittal.

The International Cycling Union said it will go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to challenge the Spanish cycling federation's decision not to ban Contador for his positive clenbuterol test.

"The decision to appeal comes after an in-depth study of the file received from the (Spanish federation)," the UCI said in a statement on the final day of the deadline for an appeal.

Contador was acquitted after testing positive July 21, 2010, a rest day during last year's Tour de France. He blamed the finding on eating contaminated beef.

"I wish the situation was different, but I completely trust in my arguments and my lawyers," Contador said Thursday after keeping his lead in the weeklong Volta of Catalunya in Spain. "I found out about the appeal when I got to the finish line. The race has been like any other day."

"I am a person who believes that things happen because they are supposed to, and maybe we have to go to the CAS so that my innocence can be demonstrated even more clearly," he added. "They (the UCI) have had time to see all the documentation that has been presented. I am sure they have never, ever seen a dossier like the one we have given them."

The World Anti-Doping Agency has three more weeks to decide if it will join the appeal. UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told The Associated Press that cycling officials had worked closely with WADA and "there is no reason to think they will not join us."

WADA regards clenbuterol, a banned anabolic agent that burns fat and builds muscle, as a zero-tolerance drug. However, its rules allow athletes to escape discipline if they prove "no fault or negligence" on their part.

If a CAS panel finds him guilty of doping, Contador faces a two-year ban and loss of his Tour victory.

Contador can continue racing until CAS rules. After Thursday's stage, Contador said he still plans to start the May 7-29 Giro d'Italia, which he won in 2008. The Volta, which Contador is riding for the first time, ends Sunday in Barcelona.

CAS secretary general Matthieu Reeb said Thursday it would be difficult but "not impossible" to deliver a verdict before this year's Tour starts July 2. That would allow Contador a chance to defend his title if cleared.

"If all parties concerned would agree to an expedited procedure, the CAS could reasonably envisage to issue a final decision at the end of June," Reeb said in a statement to the AP, adding that WADA's entry in the case could extend the timetable.


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© 2011 The Associated Press

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