Madrid: Tour de France champion Alberto Contador needs time to explain his positive test for a banned anabolic agent, shocked riders at the road world championships in Australia said on Thursday.
The Spaniard has been provisionally suspended for returning a positive test for clenbuterol from a sample taken at the Tour de France, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said on Thursday, casting a pall over the event in the port city of Geelong.
Contador, due to give a news conference in Spain later on Thursday, remains in cycling limbo while the UCI carries out further "scientific investigation".
"In the end I had to focus on my own, not what`s going on in Europe," Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara said after notching a record fourth world time trial in a welcome diversion from the controversy.
"I don`t want to say (anything) now, we have until 12 o`clock in Europe (to see) what is really going on because there`s a press conference."
"First of all we have to respect the rules. The rules are we have to wait until the B sample has gone over and then people can talk and discussion can go on."
"The rules have to be respected. I am the first one to respect this and I hope also the whole world will respect that."
"What he has or what was it in the end, I don`t look, I`m looking here, I want to focus and also enjoy what I`ve done today."
"The rest really is only polemic and big rumours."
Although a B sample had already confirmed the first test, Contador`s result had shown "a very small concentration" of clenbuterol, which the Spanish rider had blamed on food contamination in a statement via his agent on Thursday.
Clenbuterol can be abused by athletes to strip fat and enhance muscle size and can have a short-term stimulant effects, including increasing aerobic capacity, blood pressure and alertness. It has led to bans for cyclists in the past.
British time trial silver medallist David Millar backed Contador as a "fantastic athlete and a great human being" and said the case should never have been made public while further investigation was needed.
"I think there`s a very strong chance that this is being blown way out of proportion... because it`s a microdose and it was on a rest day and it makes no sense," he told reporters.
"It makes no sense because it would have come up in other controls."
"It`s a shame that it`s been released when it hasn`t been resolved. I think it`s something that should be resolved behind closed doors and done the way it should be done properly."
"There are strict rules and I think unfortunately in cycling for the right reasons we always jump to the worst-case scenario and because of the history we have in the sport unfortunately maybe Alberto`s just maybe been kind of thrown to the sharks."
"I think it will get resolved and I hope so for Alberto`s benefit and I hope so for the sport`s benefit."
Contador`s Tour de France victory with Kazakh-funded Astana remains under a cloud and the test threatens to leave an indelible stain on the Spaniard, who also won the 2007 and 2009 Tours and is regarded as one of the greats of the modern era.
Athletes have previously cited food contamination for exhibiting elevated levels of clenbuterol. The coach of China`s Olympic judo champion Tong Wen blamed a surfeit of contaminated pork chops for her positive test earlier this year.