Bjarne Riis has defended the presence of Alberto Contador at the start of the Giro d’Italia. Speaking at the end of Saxo Bank-SunGard’s pre-race press conference, the Dane criticised the media for drawing comparisons between Contador’s Clenbuterol case and the Mantova anti-doping investigation.
Riders named in the Mantova probe centred on the links between the Lampre team and pharmacist Guido Nigrelli were pulled from the race in the past week. Contador, meanwhile, has been cleared to race by his national federation, although the UCI has appealed the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Against that backdrop, Riis accused the cycling media of “confusing fans” with its reportage of the Clenbuterol affair and pointed out that his rider’s case was taking place in a very different context to the investigation unfolding in Italy.
“Maybe you don’t tell fans the real thing,” Riis said. “Maybe you make them confused because you are the guys who are writing. We don’t try to make them confused, but if you don’t tell them the difference between Alberto’s case and whatever Italian case it is, if you don’t explain the difference to them, then you make them confused, not us.”
A recurring theme at press conferences around Turin in the days leading up to this Giro has been speculation that Contador might be ultimately sanctioned for his adverse analytical finding for Clenbuterol, and retrospectively disqualified from the race. Riis could scarcely hide his frustration that the hypothesis was dominating the build-up his team’s Giro.
“This is all speculation, we don’t know that. If that’s going to be the case, should we be at the start then?” he said exasperatedly.
Riis was also reluctant to discuss the precise nature of the UCI’s appeal to CAS, and suggested reporters request details from the sport’s governing body.
“We don’t even know what they want to appeal, so ask Mr. McQuaid,” he said. “Maybe he knows.”