Andy Schleck insists he has “no reason at all to be happy” having been installed as 2010 Tour de France champion after the Court of Arbitration for Sport handed Alberto Contador a two-year ban.
Contador won the race by 39 seconds, taking over the race lead in controversial circumstances after Schleck suffered a mechanical on stage 15 – but the Spaniard was stripped of that title, and his subsequent 2011 Giro d’Italia win, by CAS having tested positive for clenbuterol.
Contador’s ban means the 29-year-old will still miss this year’s Tour and, if he were to win, Schleck would consider it his “first Tour victory.”
“There is no reason to be happy now,” said Schleck, now riding for Radioshack-Nissan-Trek. “First of all I feel sad for Alberto. I always believed in his innocence. This is just a very sad day for cycling. The only positive news is that there is a verdict after 566 days of uncertainty. We can finally move on.
“I trust that the CAS judges took all things into consideration after reading a 4,000 page file. If now I am declared overall winner of the 2010 Tour de France it will not make me happy. I battled with Contador in that race and I lost. My goal is to win the Tour de France in a sportive way, being the best of all competitors, not in court. If I succeed this year, I will consider it as my first Tour victory.”
Contador argued in the four-day CAS hearing, which took place in November, that he had ingested clenbuterol as a result of contaminated steak.
The panel rejected the SaxoBank rider’s claims, however, concluding that a contaminated food supplement was the most likely source and Contador therefore fell foul of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s strict liability rule, which says a rider is responsible for anything that enters their system.
And Oscar Pereiro, who won the 2006 Tour after Floyd Landis was disqualified, slammed the UCI and WADA for pursuing the case.
“Two years of sanctions to Alberto Contador and the judgement says that the doping is not proven,” he tweeted. “Then? Sons of a …”
Referring to Alejandro Valverde, who returned from a two-year ban at the Tour Down Under, Pereiro continued: “We have two Spaniards sanctioned, without the UCI or CAS proving it. Shame on you. Do you know what I think? He is innocent, I know him. Hopefully he will go through with this to the end and then we will see who we pay for and who does their job like shit.”
Schleck is not the only beneficiary of Contador’s ban, with Michele Scarponi now crowned as winner of the 2011 Giro d’Italia – but the Lampre-ISD rider’s reaction followed a similar tone to Schleck’s.
“Together with my team, Lampre-ISD, I acknowledge the decision by the CAS about Contador case,” said Scarponi, who was himself suspended for 15 months in 2007 after being implicated in Operacion Puerto.
“For what concerns the human aspect, I’m very sorry for Alberto; for what concerns the professional aspect, this decision doesn’t change the value of the results I obtained and the targets for the future.”