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Alberto Contador strikes a pose for Procycling's Tour de France preview. A few months later he would win the Tour but test positive for Clenbuterol
Dane Pedersen breaks UCI silence on outcome of Tour de France winner's case
Saxo Bank-SunGard have criticized comments from a UCI executive who has suggested that Alberto Contador is likely to serve a ban for his positive test for clenbuterol during this year's Tour de France.
Peder Pedersen, a member of both the UCI's executive and Anti-Doping committees, told a Danish television programme that he expects Contador to be ruled out of competition in light of the evidence against the Spanish rider.
"The information we hold right now suggests that he has committed an offence that triggers a sentence of two years, so I do not think he will race the Tour de France this summer," said Pedersen on TV2 Fyn.
Saxo Bank reacted to Pedersen's comment by saying that it is inappropriate to speculate on the outcome of the case when a judgement is yet to be handed down by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC).
"To be quite honest, I think it is an unfortunate comment to make at this time. The case is not closed and it remains with the Spanish cycling federation," Saxo Bank's Press Officer Anders Damgaard told sporten.tv2.dk.
"And as long as any decree is outstanding, we think the parties should refrain completely from commenting on it," Damgaard added.
Since September, when news broke of his positive test for clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour de France, Contador has continued to maintain his innocence, arguing that the drug entered his system via tainted meat.
Should Contador be found guilty, he faces a two-year ban from competition and the loss of his third Tour de France title, which he claimed ahead of Andy Schleck and Denis Menchov.
Responsibility for a ruling in the case rests with the RFEC, who are yet to indicate when a decision might be made, despite widespread calls for a speedy conclusion to the matter.
Pedersen is the first member of the UCI to express his opinion on the case. Up to now, the sport's governing body has refrained from commenting on the case, referring instead to RFEC's judicial jurisdiction.
Pedersen has been a staunch anti-doping advocate since the end of his own professional career in 1977. He served as Chairman of the Danish Cycling Union (DCU) from 1990 to 2005 and led the DCU's opposition of Bo Hamburger's inclusion in the Danish team for the 2004 Athens Olympics, after Hamburger registered a high haematocrit.
In reaction to Pedersen's comments, the UCI told Cyclingnews that while the Dane's opinion does represent a potential outcome in the case, the decision remains in the RFEC's hands for now.
"We [the UCI] are currently awaiting a decision from the RFEC in the case. After that we [the UCI and WADA] will have a month to decide whether we accept the decision from the Spanish Federation, or appeal it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport," UCI Press Officer Enrico Carpani told Cyclingnews.
"But to say today that Mr Contador will not compete in 2011 would be premature. We must respect the course of disciplinary action and the presumption of innocence.
“Of course, as soon as any rider - not just Contador - faces disciplinary action they could face a penalty, but equally they could also be acquitted. This is the case not only in cycling, but in the normal course of justice."