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Cancellara: Big question marks hang over Contador case

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Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-NIssan)

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-NIssan) (Image credit: RadioShack-Nissan-Trek)
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Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-NIssan)

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-NIssan) (Image credit: Procycling)
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Alberto Contador maintained his innocence at a press conference on February 7, 2012.

Alberto Contador maintained his innocence at a press conference on February 7, 2012. (Image credit: AFP)

Having had a couple of days to digest the two-year ban handed by CAS to Alberto Contador following his long drawn out, 18-month clenbuterol case, Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara has branded the process involved in ascertaining Contador’s culpability as “crazy”. 30-year-old Cancellara, who is at the 2012 Tour of Qatar in the colours of RadioShack-Nissan, told Cyclingnews that his faith in the decision makers, and that of some of his fellow riders, has been shaken. Contador, who may appeal against the decision, was sanctioned on Monday, stripped of the 2010 Tour de France title and could face a fine of 2.4m Euros.

“I am here racing and all I’ve had time to do is read some papers, look at the internet and try to digest the facts and the rumours,” Cancellara told Cyclingnews. “They said there is 4000 pages about Alberto’s case. The Fuentes case was 8000 pages. 4000 pages for one person and 8000 for maybe 20 guys? Already, that is something crazy.

“There are so many questions. The UCI and WADA agree together, then they disagree together then they think different things. Then you have the clenbuterol – it’s such a small amount. Is it from food? Now they are saying it’s from some sort of nutrition supplement contamination. All I can see is a big question mark.

“To improve, CAS just has to work harder and faster – they should not be on holidays, and not be distracted by other things. In sport across the board so far, from the CAS point of view, this is one of the biggest delays there has been. 556 days? Plus or minus? We were told August, then November, then January and we have to wait until February. This waiting has damaged our sport.”

Cancellara went on to state that trust in both the governing bodies and the prosecution and appeal processes has been compromised as a result of the case, and he accused CAS of victimising cycling.

“Of course, normally, we have to go with the decision of the court,” he said. “The court should be the highest jurisdiction in the world. But the big question now is whether we are able to believe in the court. Yes or no? Are we going to believe them in the cases of killers, drug dealers and paedophiles? This is the problem that Alberto’s case has thrown up for all of the riders. It makes you lose faith. I wouldn’t want to be in the skins of the three judges at CAS.

“When we look at how much cycling is filing cases for doping, then cycling should not get treated in this way. There are cases of people in other sports who have done much worse and they haven’t got banned as severely. Sometimes they do not get banned at all. It is always cyclists who are punished most.”

He then cited Contador’s attention to detail and the amount that he has stood to lose as an argument against the possibility that he risked everything on a contaminated supplement.

“Now they are saying that it wasn’t even the food, it was a supplement. It is hard to believe that Alberto would take a supplement without having it tested. You get offered them everywhere but you say ‘ok’ and send them to the lab. For a cyclist, this is your insurance.

“Alberto has so many people behind him: teammates, coaches, friends, family, sponsors and the money that comes with it all. To throw away all that in a split second on one pill seems crazy. I always think this way myself - about what I have to lose.

“Your whole life can fall apart after one test. This is the fear we have as an athlete and it’s real. I believe there is always a possibility that you can test positive for things that you don’t know about. You can go to China and eat some meat and then you come back and ‘boom’. It scares me, for sure. And it affects you. I remember back in 2008 when I was implicated in the case that had nothing to do with me. The press all around were talking about me. I lost my energy, I gained 10kg in fat and I couldn’t sleep. But a cyclist has to live with that. If you live with that you can go forward. If you don’t then you give up and go home. But it’s wrong.”

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Mark Robinson

Mark joined the Cyclingnews team in October 2011 and has a strong background in journalism across numerous sports. His interest in cycling dates back to Greg LeMond's victories in the 1989 and 1990 Tours, and he has a self-confessed obsession with the career and life of Fausto Coppi.