Cyclists: Give Contador time to explain failed test

Thu, 30 Sep 12:30:00 2010

Tour de France champion Alberto Contador needs time to explain his positive test for a banned anabolic agent, shocked riders at the World Championships in Australia said.

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The Spaniard has been provisionally suspended for returning a positive test for clenbuterol from a sample taken at the Tour de France, the UCI said, casting a distracting pall over the event in the suburb of Geelong.

Contador remains in cycling limbo while the UCI carries out further "scientific investigation".

"In the end I had to focus on my own, not what's going on in Europe," Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara said after notching a record fourth world time trial win in a welcome diversion from the controversy.

"First of all we have to respect the rules. The rules are we have to wait until the B sample has gone over and then people can talk and discussion can go on."

"The rules have to be respected. I am the first one to respect this and I hope also the whole world will respect that.

"The rest really is only polemic and big rumours."

Although a B sample has already confirmed the first test, Contador's result had shown "a very small concentration" of clenbuterol, the UCI said.

Contador blamed this on food contamination in a statement on Thursday.

Clenbuterol can be abused by athletes to strip fat and enhance muscle size and has led to bans for cyclists in the past.

British time trial silver medallist David Millar, who was banned for two years and had his 2003 world championship stripped for doping offences, backed Contador as a "fantastic athlete and a great human being".

"I think there's a very strong chance that this is being blown way out of proportion... because it's a microdose and it was on a rest day and it makes no sense," said Millar, now a prominent anti-doping activist who remains banned from Britain's Olympic cycling team.

"It makes no sense because it would have come up in other controls."

"It's a shame that (the findings have) been released when it hasn't been resolved. I think it's something that should be resolved behind closed doors and done the way it should be done."

"There are strict rules and I think unfortunately in cycling for the right reasons we always jump to the worst-case scenario, and because of the history we have in the sport unfortunately maybe Alberto's just maybe been kind of thrown to the sharks.

"I think it will get resolved and I hope so for Alberto's benefit and I hope so for the sport's benefit."

Contador's Tour de France victory with Kazakh-funded Astana remains under a cloud and the test results threaten to leave an indelible stain on the Spaniard, who also won the 2007 and 2009 Tours and is regarded as one of the greats of the modern era.


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