MADRID, Spain (AFP) — The head of Spain’s Olympic committee stepped up to defend Spanish sport Wednesday in the wake of champion cyclist Alberto Contador’s two-year ban for doping.
The committee president Alejandro Blanco defended Spanish sport against its detractors, including a French satirical television show that lampooned Spain’s sporting heros in a sketch about doping.
“The successes of Spanish sport are solely due to hard work, dedication and planning,” Blanco told a news conference.
“We are the biggest defenders of cleanliness in sport and we can hold our head high,” he said, citing Spain’s 2006 anti-doping law.
“We have a large number of tests per year: more than 11,000 in 2011. All this means Spain is in the front line of those countries fighting against doping,” he added.
The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport on Monday handed a two-year ban to two-time Tour de France winner Contador after he tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol.
Contador says it was due to a contaminated steak eaten during the 2010 Tour de France. He said on Tuesday that his lawyers were looking into a possible appeal. “We will continue to fight until the end,” he said in a news conference.
The ban prompted widespread indignation in Spain, with many in the public and media branding it unjust.
Contador’s fans said they will don masks of their hero on Sunday and hold a symbolic bike ride in his home town of Pinto to support him.
The sanction is backdated to August 2010, meaning Contador can return to competition on August 6, 2012.
As well as ruling him out of this year’s Tour de France and the Olympic Games in London, he will be stripped of several wins, including his 2010 yellow jersey, one of his three victories in the French race.
Blanco hit out on Wednesday at the Guignols de l’Info, a French television sketch show.
Spain’s tennis federation said Wednesday it would sue French TV broadcaster Canal+ over the comedy sketches which implied that Contador, tennis player Rafael Nadal and other Spanish athletes use performance-enhancing drugs.
The sketch featured a puppet likeness of world number two Nadal filling the gas tank of his car from his own bladder. “These are very harsh images which do not correspond at all to reality,” Blanco said.