Delay in CAS hearing confounds race organisation
Due to delays in legal proceedings, Alberto Contador could race the 2011 Tour de France, if he so chooses, even with his 2010 Tour de France doping case still unresolved. The race director Christian Prudhomme confirmed today to AFP that there is nothing the Amaury Sport Organisation can do to block Contador from competing in this year's race.
Contador tested positive for minute traces of Clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour, but the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) cleared him of doping charges. The International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) have filed separate appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to reverse the verdict, but the hearing originally scheduled for June was delayed until August.
"[Contador] has yet to make his decision regarding the Tour but no official body, the UCI or WADA has opposed him competing in races. He could well be at the starting line of the Tour," Prudhomme said to AFP.
Prudhomme had expressed hope that the case would be resolved prior to the July 2 start of the 2011 Tour, but now faces the possibility that Contador could win the race again this year only to be stripped of both titles and his recent Giro d'Italia win should the appeals succeed during the August 1-3 hearings.
"The procedures are under way, the appeal is not subject to him being suspended," said Prudhomme.
In 2008, the ASO blocked the Astana team from racing in the Tour de France because of multiple doping positives in the team during the 2007 Tour.
The action was highly controversial because the Astana team was supposed to be assured entry as part of its participation in the ProTour.
While the Grand Tour organisers have maintained the right to exclude teams over ethical violations, the Contador case does not fall into this category since he has cooperated with the anti-doping proceedings. He accepted his provisional suspension upon notification of his positive test, and only resumed racing once he was cleared of doping charges by the RFEC.
By UCI rules, Contador is allowed to continue competing while he awaits his CAS hearing, but the UCI confirmed today that he is subject to disqualification of any results he accrues should the CAS overturn the RFEC verdict.