After 18 months of dramatics, the legal saga for Alberto Contador, one of pro cycling's celebrated stars, has come to a conclusion.
The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration found the pro cycling star guilty of using Clenbuterol, a banned substance in the sport, first detected on the 21st day of the 2010 Tour de France, resulting in a two-year suspension and stripping of 12 race titles.
Team Saxo Bank leader and star vowed to repeal the decision and wanted "...to go all the way" with the fight...My lawyers are examining the possibilities”, said Contador to The Gurandian.
Contador reaffirmed his own belief in his innocence. "With the sentence in my hand the sensation I still feel is that I am innocent...I will continue to do so in a clean way as I have all my life."
Contador came to prominence with team ONCE-Eroski (then Team Liberty Seguros). Rising through the ranks, he quickly was picked to be one of Spain's next big stars. With the subsequent demise of the Liberty Seguros team, current Radioshack-Nissan-Trek pro cycling team manager Johan Bruyneel, picked Contador for Team Discovery Channel. Here, his first Tour de France title was won in 2008. Since then, Contador has won four Grand Tour races, multiple semi and one-day classics, solidifying himself as cycling history's best.
However, the Court of Arbitration said it was “highly unlikely” that food he ingested during the 2010 Tour de France indicated the 50 milliliters of clenbuterol. The assumption was consistent with WADA's (World Anti-Doping Agency) own opinions, according to The Washington Post.
“The onus is on athletes to ensure they do not take," said John Fahey of WADA, in Lausanne.
Bjarne Riis, current team manager of Saxo Bank, indicated that Contador has a place in his team and will try his best to support his pupil.
“We’ll sit down and talk,” Riis said.
Contador will need some positives, for his legal troubles have put a large strain on his income situation. As estimated by Bloomberg.com, Contador is estimated to lose close to 6 million Euros. The losses are a combination of legal fees, fines, loss of sponsors, and team salary.
“It’s been a year and a half that I wouldn’t wish on anyone...it's been a real agony", said Contador.
Contador is qualified to return to full competition in August of 2012, when his two-year suspension ends. He has 30 days to repeal the decision and to continue on the legal fight.