David Millar has backed under-fire rider Alberto Contador after the Spaniard was outed as having failed an anti-doping control during the Tour de France.
It was announced that the three-time Tour champion tested positive for clenbuterol in an almost-undetectable microdose of 50 picograms/millilitre, which is apparently 400 times less than the required limit of detection.
Speaking after taking silver in the elite men's world championship time trial, Millar called for understanding and patience from the media, fans and the administration. "Let's wait until all the information is out and give him the benefit of the doubt," said the British rider. "I think he's a fantastic athlete and a great human being. I think there's a very strong chance this is being blown out of proportion.
"It's a microdose, [the sample was taken] on a rest day and it makes no sense. It makes no sense because it would have come up in other controls," he added.
Millar himself was banned for two years after confessing to the use of EPO whilst riding for French squad Cofidis. Since returning to the professional peloton he has been one of the sport's biggest anti-doping advocates and a staunch supporter of cleaning up cycling.
He came under intense criticism during his spell on the sidelines and knows just how ferocious the backlash can be for a rider suspected of using banned substances. Consequently he's adamant that whilst catching cheats is important, following protocols dealing with doping cases to avoid undue pressure from all parties is also vital.
"I think we need to wait for all the information - at the moment it just doesn't make sense. He's a phenomenal athlete, he's a great human being and it just seems like such a glitch, a blip, and it's a shame it's just been released when it hasn't been resolved," said Millar.
"I think it's something that should be resolved behind closed doors and done the way it should be done... I don't know who's to blame.
"I think with all of these things there are strict rules; I think unfortunately in cycling - for the right reasons - we always jump to the worst case scenario because of the history that we have in this sport, when often that's not the case.
"I think maybe Alberto's just been kind of thrown to the sharks, which is a shame. But I think it'll get resolved, and I hope so, for Alberto's benefit and the sport's benefit.
"I will 100 percent, fully give Alberto the benefit of the doubt because you have to understand these things can be quite complicated and it's a shame that it's out there when it could be something completely innocent. So let's wait and see."
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