Three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador, who is facing a one-year ban for taking performance enhancing drugs, on Monday rejected calls that he accept the ban instead of fighting it.
Last week Astana cycling team manager Giuseppe Martinelli said the Spanish rider, who was provisionally suspended from the team after failing a drugs test on last year’s 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 stressed that he believes the 28-year-old is “clean,” but he pointed out that the year-long ban would expire at the end of August and said: “That’s not too long.”
Last month, the Spanish cycling federation proposed Contador get a one-year ban for his positive test for the banned substance clenbuterol, which he has vowed to appeal.
The rider denies any wrongdoing and says he unknowingly ingested trace elements of the banned substance clenbuterol from beef brought from Spain to France during the second rest day of the Tour.
Asked about Martinelli’s comments during an interview with Spanish public radio on Monday, Condador said: “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, instead of the standard two-year penalty, would still leave Contador stripped of last year’s Tour title, which would make him only the second Tour de France champion to be stripped of his title, after American Floyd Landis in 2006.
It would also keep him off the starting line of this year’s race.
Clenbuterol, which can have short-term stimulant effects such as increasing aerobic capacity, was banned by the EU in 1996, but it is still administered illicitly by some cattle farmers.
The World Anti-Doping Agency lists it as an anabolic agent that is prohibited for use by athletes at all times, both in and out of competition.