Contador’s future still uncertain as he awaits initial fate.
The waters of cycling have only just begun to be muddied once again by the taint of doping in the case of Alberto Contador. As Velo News reported that the Spaniard had finally linked up with the Saxo Bank team vacated by the Schleck brothers for a closed door training camp a team of four lawyers in Spain were deliberating his positive test for clenbuterol at this year’s Tour de France.
The first stage in Contador’s road to exoneration or a lengthy ban is a disciplinary committee convened by the Spanish cycling federation. To say that they will find Contador guilty or innocent is a misnomer – there are many institutions that will want their piece of this scandal before it is over. Perhaps the most interested party will be the World Anti–Doping authority who are legally entitled to appeal any kind of decision made by the Spanish federation.
Should they find Contador guilty the WADA may well seek to extend or compound the Tour champion’s misery or to legally stop a declaration of his innocence from taking effect. Watching on intently of course is world cycling’s governing body, the UCI. They will be forming their own opinion on the investigation to make sure that the committee, which is an independent body, inflict the right punishment or praise. Of course all three bodies, and Contador himself, have the right to take the issue to the Court of arbitration for Sport. Strap yourselves in everyone, this one could take a while.
Contador is in an unenviable position. Only he knows if he is truly guilty; he is either living with the inexorable guilt and facing a life as a cheat or genuinely on tenterhooks as to his cycling future. Joining up with team mates and a team manager, Dutch stalwart Bjarne Riis, that haven’t exactly been strident in their support for the beleaguered Spaniard can’t be easy. A lengthy legal battle lies ahead, a battle from which Contador’s reputation may never recover. Rarely can cyclists be proven innocent to the extent that renders their legacy intact. It would be a sad affair to see another chapter in cycling’s history consigned to the scourge of narcotics.
Differing fortunes for Britain’s top two
A stark picture was painted of the contrasting fortunes between Britain’s foremost cyclists last week as Mark Cavendish, multi stage winner at the Tour and green jersey victor in the Vuelta, was nominated for Sports Personality of the Year and Bradley Wiggins gave a painfully frank interview in the Guardian outlining his misery in the Pyrenees.
Cavendish, so assured in the public eye, is the antithesis of Wiggins ; a quietly defiant personality who is usually exempt from the banal generalities that sportsmen trade in. He finished one mountain after another uninspired showing in the Tour and candidly told journalists he was: “fucked”. Can you imagine Steven Gerrard giving the same answer when questioned on his poor performance?
The pair face a huge 2011. Cavendish is undoubtedly the top sprinter in world road cycling but, after a poor decision by race organisers in 2009 and a couple of days of lukewarm form this year, is still without a green jersey in the Tour de France. To really cement himself as one of the all time greats he needs to lock that Maillot Verte down.
For Wiggins almost anything is an improvement. Events and form conspired against him last time out and preparation for 2011 will almost inevitably be better. Firstly he won’t make the mistake of riding the Giro d’Italia in the run up to the big one again and has admitted that he and his team were too clever by half in sending him out early for the 2010 prologue. Factor into that lower expectations and a desire on Wiggins part to improve and his race could have a potent energy. British cycling fans will be crossing their fingers.
Shrewd Schlecks sign THE Super domestique
Fabien Cancellara has joined the still unnamed Luxembourg based team of the Brothers Schleck – and what a signing he represents. The classics and time trial specialist is an incredible rider. He can give his all to set a blistering pace in the mountains, ride into a tumultuous headwind and drag along a team with him on the flats and most importantly might get a prospective sponsors name on TV with an individual win. The team, currently named Luxembourg Pro Cycling project, have mixed a cocktail of youth with some experienced names like Australian Tour veteran Stuart O ‘Grady and should be a prominent force if and when Andy Schleck takes on Contador along the highways and byways of France next June and July.