Former Tour de France winner Pedro Delgado believes Alberto Contador will receive a sanction for his positive doping test taken during his successful Tour campaign this year.
Contador tested positive for Clenbuterol in a sample taken during the Tour's second rest day in Pau, his case the subject of intense speculation since it was publically revealed he failed the test during last month's UCI Road World Championships in Geelong, Australia.
Spanish news agency EFE reports that Delgado, who also won two editions of the Vuelta a España, said that the nature of the substance for which Contador tested positive "is punishable".
Delgado himself tested positive to a banned substance during his successful Tour campaign. Samples taken in Villard-de-Lans on July 15 that year tested positive for probenecid, a masking agent that delays other illegal substances from reaching the urine, keeping the urine 'cleaner' for longer.
Delgado avoided sanction because probenecid wasn't on the UCI's list of banned substances - despite being on those of the International Olympic Committee and the French Cycling Federation - and hence he rode into Paris as the victor of the 1988 Tour de France.
In August that year Sports Illustrated described Delgado's yellow jersey "the most soiled yellow jersey in the history of the Tour de France".
The man known as 'Perico' can therefore speak with authority about the nuances of banned substances and the damage it can do a rider's reputation in addition to the possible sanctions that result from their use.
"Contador has suffered irreparable damage already no matter what," Delgado told Spanish sports daily Marca. "It will punish you. He [Contador] is optimistic but the presence of clenbuterol is 'punishable'," he added.
"I would not penalise him, but seeing the how the matter has developed I think that ultimately they will punish him," Delgado continued. "A lesser evil would be a penalty of six months, which would be enough, although it would remove him from the Tour this year."
Delgado added that this latest doping case is another "blow for cycling" after "it seemed that it was regenerating after a few good years".
Contador has maintained his innocence in the matter, stating that it was the consumption of contaminated meat, brought to France from Spain, that caused the presence of clenbuterol in his system. This week the UCI requested that the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) open disciplinary proceedings against the rider.
Contador remains optimistic of successfully defending his case using the explanation above, and in recent days RFEC boss Juan Carlos Castaño has expressed its hope that the matter is resolved swiftly and "for the best".