Spanish Prime Minister backs Contador's claim of innocence

The Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has publicly stated that he believes Alberto Contador's presumption of innocence. On Thursday, Zapatero's Department of Communication posted that "there is no judicial reason to sanction Alberto Contador" on its Twitter page.

This could come as the latest support for Contador, who is waiting for the Spanish cycling federation's competitions committee to issue a final decision regarding his positive doping control for clenbuterol at last year's Tour de France. Recent news out of Spain suggests that members of the competitions committee are considering overturning the initial recommendation of a one-year ban for the offence, with a final verdict expected at the beginning of next week.

According to AS, the investigation magistrate Carmen Victoria López Muñoz, thinks that out of the four possible reasons for the doping positive - transfusion, micro-dosing, vitamin supplements and contaminated meat - only the last possibility could be valid, discarding the three others.

The question will be whether Contador's attorneys can successfully defend their client by pointing at the World Anti-Doping Code, which states that "the otherwise applicable period of Ineligibility shall be eliminated" if the athlete can clearly establish "how the Prohibited Substance entered his or her system" in a case of "No Fault or Negligence".

Meanwhile, Contador himself again defended his innocence, saying that "the pressure of the UCI and WADA had a great influence on the sanction proposal by the Spanish cycling federation" and that his case had been "politicised for a while now."

Contador has also called for the introduction of thresholds for certain substances, saying that the substance quantities detected are so small that they would not affect performance anyway.

"Modern science is able to detect infinitely small quantities of certain prohibited substances that cannot enhance the athlete's performance, nor can they be taken voluntarily, unless ingested through food. I think that the rules need to be continuously revised according to scientific progress," the Spaniard stated on his homepage.

Spanish cycling president Juan Castaño agreed with this. "It does not appear logical, bearing in mind scientific advancement, that there aren't any thresholds for certain products that, according to the experts, do not enhance performance in these negligible quantities," he said.

Also following the case closely is Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme, who was in Spain yesterday to receive the official candidacy of Barcelona for the 2014 Tour start. Since the news of the 2010 Tour de France winner's doping positive emerged last autumn, the race organiser is also on stand-by with regards to the event's final honours.

"We have only one desire: to get an answer," he emphatically told AFP. "We are left in uncertainty too many times. There is a fight against doping and we are standing together with the sport's interests. The only thing we want is to get an answer in order to continue our work."

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