Three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, who is facing a one-year ban from cycling after testing positive for clenbuterol, on Monday presented his arguments against a suspension to the Spanish cycling federation.
Contador had until Wednesday to present more evidence before the federation’s disciplinary committee renders a final verdict. Should the federation rule against him, he can appeal the verdict to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Last month the Spanish federation proposed a one-year ban in response to his positive test for the banned muscle-building and fat-burning drug, an anabolic agent that is prohibited for use by athletes at all times, both in and out of competition.
Contador denies any wrongdoing and says he unknowingly ingested trace elements of clenbuterol by consuming beef brought from Spain to France during the second rest day of the Tour.
Also on Monday, Contador rejected the idea of accepting the ban instead of fighting it.
Last week, Astana manager Giuseppe Martinelli said the Spanish rider, who was provisionally suspended from the team after failing a drugs test on the 2010 Tour, said Contador “must accept the ban and start again.”
“There are times when you have to make a choice. Either you bash yourself against a rubber wall, or you find the courage to start again,” he told the Italian sports newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Martinelli said he believes the 28-year-old is “clean,” but pointed out that a year-long ban could expire at the end of August.
“That’s not too long,” he added.
Asked about Martinelli’s comments during an interview with Spanish public radio on Monday, Contador replied: “Why should I accept a one-year ban if I did absolutely nothing? It sincerely does not seem like the right step.”
The reduced ban, half the standard two-year penalty, would still leave Contador stripped of the 2010 Tour title and make him only the second Tour de France champion to be stripped of his title for illicit drug use, after American Floyd Landis in 2006.
It would also keep him off the starting lines of this year’s Tour, the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España.
Contador, who signed a two-year deal with Bjarne Riis’s Saxo Bank squad after leaving the Astana team just after the 2010 Tour, also said he intended to stay in the sport, despite having threatened previously to retire if suspended.
“The passage of time and the support people have shown me have caused me to reconsider this idea. I want to fight,” he told the radio station.