World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey says that the organisation was left with no choice but to pursue an appeals case against Alberto Contador following comments made by then-Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
On February 11, 2011 while waiting for the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation (RFCE) competitions committee to issue a final decision regarding Contador's positive doping control for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France, Zapatero's Department of Communication posted that "there is no judicial reason to sanction Alberto Contador" on its Twitter page.
Weeks earlier the disciplinary commission of the RFEC had recommended that Contador be suspended for one year but on February 15, it was announced that the Spaniard had been cleared.
On Monday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport has handed Contador a two year sanction for his positive test for clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France. After a long-running saga, CAS announced that it had upheld the UCI and WADA’s joint appeal against the Spanish Cycling Federation’s (RFEC) decision not to suspend Contador. The ban was back-dated and Contador will be free to ride from August 6, 2012.
"I can say with regard to the Contador decision, it was regrettable that, when the Spanish federation proposed a 12-month penalty, a senior politician made a statement to say that Contador was innocent," Fahey told Reuters.
Fahey said that with that in mind, WADA had "no choice but to appeal" because "there was clearly a bias, certainly by the senior politician" he continued without ever specifically naming Zapatero in the interview.
Fahey then went on to question the fairness of national federations investigating their own athletes.
"I have great respect for CAS, I worry about decisions of individual national federations where it comes to dealing with their own sportsmen and women who have tested positive, because clearly the temptation must be there to protect one of your own," he said.
"I don't know the alternative. I can't imagine that Spain would say to Italy, you deal with all Spanish positives and we'll deal with all Italians, I think hell will freeze over first.
"I can certainly understand where there must be a certain level of national element, particularly if it's a national hero."
Speaking following the CAS decision, Contador maintains his innocence.
"I can't understand the final verdict," said Contador. "I've gone through everything, spent hours going over things. If there's anything I can do to prove my innocence I'll do it. There are many things that I cannot understand about this decision but for the moment I want to keep them to myself. I'm not an expert."