Contador banned for one year over doping test

Madrid: The Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) has decided to suspend Tour de France champion Alberto Contador for one year over his failed doping test in last year`s race.

"Alberto Contador has received today a notification of a one-year ban proposal by the competition committee of the Spanish federation," said a statement released by the rider`s spokesman Jacinto Vidarte on Wednesday.

Contador, who has threatened to end his career if he is punished, has 10 days to appeal the preliminary ruling before the RFEC makes a final decision.

The 28-year-old will hold a news conference on Friday at 1500 GMT in Mallorca where he is training with his Saxo Bank team, Vidarte added.

He made no mention of whether the federation had also decided to strip the Spaniard of the 2010 Tour title.

Contador has been provisionally suspended since August after it emerged he had tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol during his third Tour de France win.

He has denied deliberate wrongdoing, saying the failed test was due to contaminated meat.

Even if he accepts the federation`s decision he may not be able to put the controversy behind him right away since the UCI, cycling`s world governing body, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) could challenge the ban.

The UCI, rocked by several high profile doping scandals in recent years, may appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if it feels the RFEC has been too lenient.

Contador could also take his case to the CAS, sport`s final court of appeal.

One of only five men with titles in all three grand Tours (Giro d`Italia, Tour of Spain and Tour de France), Contador told Spanish radio from Mallorca earlier on Wednesday that he was "motivated and focused on his work".

"Right now the most important thing is to remove yourself a bit from everything that is going on around you and focus on working, which is what can bear fruit in the future," he said.

Saxo Bank said last year they would stay in the sport even if Contador was banned.

He won the 2010 Tour de France by 39 seconds from Luxembourg`s Andy Schleck who will be regarded as the hot favourite for this year`s race should Contador miss the event.

UCI chief Pat McQuaid said earlier this month Contador was likely to miss the Tour because the rider would be suspended or due to the fact he would not be fit in time.

In recent years the sport has been tarnished by a string of high profile doping cases including 1996 Tour winner Bjarne Riis and 2006 champion Floyd Landis.

Seven-times Tour champion Lance Armstrong is also the focus of a federal investigation in the US after Landis last year alleged the 39-year-old Texan and other prominent figures in the sport had doped.

Armstrong has always denied doping.

Bureau Report

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