Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has said that he is less concerned about the French public’s reaction to Alberto Contador at this year’s race than he was about Lance Armstrong’s reception on his return to cycling in 2009.
“I was more worried for Armstrong two years ago when he came back to competition,” Prudhomme told rmc.fr. “People find him [Contador] rather pleasant.”
Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour but in February the Spanish federation decided to clear him of wrongdoing. Following appeals from the UCI and WADA, the Court of Arbitration for Sport will deliberate on his case, but the hearing will not be held until August.
Prudhomme explained that Tour organisers ASO had no power to prevent Contador from riding as to date he has not been found guilty of an infraction.
“No, we were told that he was cleared by his federation,” Prudhomme said, before voicing his disappointment at the protracted timescale of the legal proceedings. “It’s hard to understand that a year later, we still don’t have an answer and we have to wait until after the Tour to get an answer. There is an incredible time lag between the world of the sports media and that of sporting justice.
“It’s not normal that we don’t have an answer regarding this matter. For months the Court of Arbitration for Sport indicated that a verdict would be reached before the Tour de France. A hearing was fixed for June 6-8 and, naturally, we expected an answer at that point.”
Prudhomme would not be drawn on what effect Contador’s absence would have had on the Tour, but he reiterated his wish that the matter had been resolved one way or another before July.
“It’s the riders who make the Tour at the moment of competition and according to the route,” Prudhomme said. “We would have hoped to have welcomed him knowing that he had been definitively cleared. For months, I wasn’t able to imagine otherwise, all the more so as the dates were fixed.”
Prudhomme pointed out, however, that once CAS agreed to delay the date of Contador’s hearing, ASO was left with no option but to await the verdict in August.
“The change of date was accepted by the three CAS arbiters. Everybody in the sport accepted it knowing that the Court of Arbitration for Sport is an emanation of the International Olympic Committee.”