Alberto Contador's comments about the likelihood of him retiring if he is banned for doping have been widely reported, but the Tour de France champion has also had plenty to say about other aspects of the affair in which he is embroiled, notably the attitude of his Astana team. Interviewed on Thursday evening on Spanish TV show Teledeporte, Contador said that Astana "hasn't shown me the same respect that I've shown them".
The Spaniard, who has ridden in the colours of the Kazakh team for the past three seasons, said, "I think I can safely say that during the last three years I've ridden out of my skin in every one of the races I've taken part in. I think I've achieved good results, with two victories at the Tour, one in the Giro, another in the Vuelta, as well as winning prestigious events such as Paris-Nice, País Vasco and others.
"This year has been particularly difficult because the team came together at the last moment, and it was very difficult to coordinate everything. And then they... Let's look at just one of bits of information that they've released, that it was all to do with a diet to lose weight. This came from a source at Astana, but they couldn't even put out a few lines to deny this information. Everyone acts in a certain way at certain times, but it's fair to say that as far as I'm concerned they haven't shown me the same respect I've shown them."
Contador compared Astana with the supportive attitude of his new Saxo Bank team. "It's a shame that I wasn't on a team like Saxo Bank during the past year." He added that he is sure that he would have received more support from Saxo Bank in the same situation, and summed up Astana's attitude by saying, "The truth is that this hasn't been a surprise for me at all."
The Spaniard said the response to the news of his positive test for clenbuterol had also been especially hard to deal with. "Since the news came out, it's been very difficult because of the number of leaks that have taken place which have led to me being defamed in incredible ways with comments that have then been discredited. There have been some very complicated moments, times when I've been unable to get any sleep at night. The truth is that I wouldn't wish this on anyone," said Contador, who said, "I've never doped. Never."
Asked about the rumours that have emerged during the last few months, the Spaniard said, "There have been some moments so incredible that you almost feel like laughing. I don't think that there is anything worse than a social hearing, a public hearing, in which everyone can say whatever they want. The media will have to give an explanation in the appropriate places. The truth is that it hurts you because something new comes out every day, and creates headlines in places that don't give you any coverage when you win the Tour de France."