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The Contador case and the Giro d'Italia

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Alberto Contador with the Giro d'Italia trophy

Alberto Contador with the Giro d'Italia trophy (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Lars Krarup, Micheleacquarone_jan_tr_jborg

Lars Krarup, Micheleacquarone_jan_tr_jborg (Image credit: RCS Sport)

First of all, I would like to use this blog to clarify some aspects regarding recent events.

RCS Sport is proud to work alongside WADA, the IOC and the UCI, and is proud of having contributed to making cycling the most active sport in the fight against doping through innovative prevention programmes and controls such as the biological passport. RCS Sport is proud to work alongside national institutions like CONI and the FCI, which have made Italy one of the countries most emblematic of the fight against doping, and the Italian federation’s decision not to allow riders besmirched by past doping offences to ride for the national team is a clear example of this. RCS Sport’s own endeavour in the fight against doping can be illustrated by two significant statistics – an economic investment of €440,000 and over 600 controls every year.

Furthermore, for over ten years, RCS Sport is proud to have promoted an educational programme in schools to teach fair play. In that time, we have taught over one million children that respect for the rules and respect for one’s opponent are the fundamental values of sport. We are convinced that by building a generation of good sportspeople today, tomorrow we will be able to count on a generation of good citizens.

But we must also not forget that at the centre of our world are the fans. Everything that we are, we are for them and thanks to them. And so it is with them in mind that we must try to recap the matter of Contador and the Giro d’Italia.

There are some important aspects that everybody understands:

1. Saxo Bank has a WorldTour licence and thus has the right to participate in all of the WorldTour races, including the Giro d’Italia. The team decided to bring its strongest rider to the start of the Giro d’Italia, namely Alberto Contador, and he had the right to participate. (Aside from the Giro, in 2011 he participated in the Tour de France, finishing 5th overall. He also won the Vuelta a Murcia and Volta a Catalunya, while in 2012, he finished second overall and won two stages at the Tour de San Luis.)

2. From when he first pinned on his number in Turin until he reached the finish in Milan in pink, Contador was regularly tested, and all of his anti-doping controls came back negative.

3. For eight months, Contador was the winner of the 2011 Giro d’Italia and was celebrated as such until the sentence of 6 February 2012, which took the victory from him because of a suspension which meant that he would not have been able to participate in the 2011 Giro d’Italia.

From a sporting justice point, the whole mechanism certainly has its own logic, but from a practical sporting point of view and for the fans, all this cannot be acceptable. Sport lives according to rules that must be simple and clear. Sub judice participation is not acceptable – if an athlete has the right to participate, he must have the right to win, otherwise he must be suspended. Such lengthy delays in reaching a verdict are not acceptable, otherwise the whole movement loses credibility.

The moment has now come for us to stop looking back. We’re changing a name in the record book and let's look ahead, dedicating all of our energy to the construction of the greatest spectacle in the world, because this is what the fans ask of us – respect, endeavour and emotions.

In the past few days on Twitter, my colleague Francesco Rosanda reminded us that “the last judgement always falls to the people who follow us from home and on the roadside. As long as they bring us their enthusiasm, it will be worth the effort.” And so be it.

Starting from March 3 with Strade Bianche, which will be broadcast live internationally for the first time, thanks to the production efforts of our friends from RAI,. This is the cycling that we like. Competitive, true and passionate. On the road, in our country and among the people.

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From Strade Bianche to Lombardia, via the Giro d'Italia, Michele Acquarone and the RCS Sport team will navigate the season with us, bringing Cyclingnews readers behind the scenes, as they discuss the challenges that face race organisers and share their fresh and innovative approaches to cycling.