Tour de France - Depressed Contador holed up in hotel
Thu, 27 Jan 15:04:00 2011
A depressed Alberto Contador was holed up in a luxury Mallorca hotel as the Tour de France champion set about coming to terms with the one-year ban handed down to him for failing a doping test.
The 28-year-old Spaniard was informed of the preliminary decision to suspend him by his national federation (RFEC) on Wednesday and was given 10 days to appeal before a final verdict is reached.
As his Saxo Bank team mates headed out to train on the rain-lashed Balearic Island on Thursday morning, Contador stayed behind at the Gran Hotel Son Net in the hills above the village of Puigpunyent, around 20 kilometres outside the capital Palma.
The triple Tour champion, who also faces being stripped of his 2010 title and has said he may quit cycling if he is punished, was licking his wounds in his five-star room as persistent drizzle swept over the mist-shrouded hilltops nearby.
"He is disillusioned because he is innocent and he feels he is being punished unfairly," Contador's spokesman Jacinto Vidarte said.
"He is in no condition to train right now and it makes no sense in the current situation," he added.
"He is feeling down after being informed of the sanction and now he is just waiting for the news conference tomorrow."
Contador is due to appear before the media at his hotel on Friday at 1500 GMT.
He has been provisionally suspended since August after testing positive for a small amount of the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol during last year's Tour.
He has denied deliberate wrongdoing, saying the failed test was due to contaminated meat.
The case could drag on for months as the rider, cycling's world governing body (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) could challenge the ban if they believe it is too harsh or too lenient.
The UCI released a statement on Thursday in which it sought to emphasise that the Spanish federation had so far made only a preliminary decision on Contador's punishment.
"To date, Alberto Contador has not received a sanction and the UCI still awaits -- in accordance with the provisions of its own regulations and those of the World Anti-Doping Code -- to be informed of the decision of the RFEC disciplinary commission that should be provided as soon as possible," the UCI said.
"Considering the major media interest in the case, the UCI regrets the inappropriate speculation that has characterised the proceedings and expresses its desire that this affair be drawn to a conclusion in an orderly fashion," it added.
Contador won the 2010 Tour by 39 seconds from Luxembourg's Andy Schleck, who should start as favourite in this year's race should the Spaniard be absent.
Schleck said that he would always consider Contador the winner of the 2010 Tour no matter what the outcome of the doping case.
"Whether he will be suspended will not change anything, even if this (Tour title) falls into my hands," he told Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure. "With or without him, I've always wanted to win the Tour."
"He should be suspended for two or three years for telling a story nobody believed in," Guimard said on French radio RMC.
"If the suspension is confirmed, I hope he will have the decency not to appeal again and again. He should thank the Spanish federation."
Contador won the 2010 Tour by 39 seconds from Luxembourg's Andy Schleck, who should start as favourite in this year's race should the Spaniard be absent.Reuters