Contador submits official defense

Associated Press / November 27, 2010

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MADRID — Alberto Contador submitted his official defense for a failed Tour de France doping test yesterday, giving the Spanish cycling federation documents he claims will show contaminated meat was to blame.

Contador spokesman Jacinto Vidarte told the Associated Press that Contador accompanied his lawyers to the federation’s headquarters to hand over the necessary documentation.

The 27-year-old Spanish cyclist risks losing this year’s Tour de France title and could face a two-year ban if found guilty of using clenbuterol, a banned muscle-building and weight-loss steroid. Contador said beef bought from Spanish border town Irun caused the failed July 21 test.

The federation’s disciplinary committee had opened the case earlier this month.

Contador labeled the charges as “absolutely ridiculous’’ and felt the entire episode had discredited him.

“I don’t doubt [my innocence] for one second because I did not do anything irregular at any time,’’ Contador said in an interview Thursday on national broadcaster TVE. “Never.’’

He looked to be fighting back tears when asked if he would follow up his threat to quit the sport if punished.

“It’s early to say that but,’’ said Contador, stopping to reflect on his words with his voice cracking. “I can’t say for sure . . . that I’ll continue.’’

Contador took a swipe at his Kahzak-based team for failing to provide any support after he announced in September that he had failed a July 21 drug test. Contador had signed a two-year deal to ride with Danish outfit Saxo Bank from 2011 by that point.

“I’ve always given my most in every event over the last three years,’’ said Contador, who rode for Astana over that time but was unable to defend his 2007 Tour title after it was barred because of a number of doping scandals. “[But] it was no surprise to me’’ they have failed to defend him.

Contador is hoping a decision on his case by the Spanish cycling federation’s disciplinary committee will be reached before the end of the year but still expected the case to stretch regardless of the verdict.

“I’ve never thought that this won’t be resolved in a favorable way — I can’t go on thinking any other way,’’ Contador said.

Contador, who is accused of using the muscle-building and weight-loss drug from a test taken one day before a crucial mountain stage, also won the Tour in 2007 and ’09 for Astana.

He added that he had been exchanging messages with Tour runner-up Andy Schleck throughout the ordeal.