Madrid: Alberto Contador was considering appealing against the two-year ban he was handed by Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for failing a dope test during his victorious 2010 Tour de France campaign.
The Spaniard, stripped of the Tour title in Monday`s CAS ruling, told a packed news conference in his home town of Pinto near Madrid he was innocent of doping and planned to return to competition when the retroactive ban ends in August.
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"My lawyers are examining the possibilities and as I have said before we have to fight to the end," a grim-faced Contador said when asked if he would appeal Lausanne-based CAS`s decision in the Swiss federal court, which he must do within 30 days.
"With the sentence in my hand, the sensation I still feel is that I am innocent. I did not dope myself."
The 29-year-old Saxo Bank-SunGard rider, who was sitting next to team manager Bjarne Riis, had a group of family and friends shouting encouragement from the back of the room.
"I will continue in cycling," said Contador, who had threatened to quit the sport if found guilty.
"I will continue to do so in a clean way as I have all my life. And I know that will make me stronger in the future."
The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) initially proposed a one-year sanction for Contador after he tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol, which he blamed on eating contaminated meat.
The RFEC subsequently overturned the ban, clearing the way for the rider to return to competition but prompting an appeal to CAS by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
WADA president John Fahey told Reuters on Tuesday that Contador was a "doping cheat" and said the agency had had no choice but to appeal to CAS after the RFEC exonerated the rider.
Tour winner in 2007, 2009 and 2010 and regarded as one of the greatest cyclists of his generation, Contador also faces losing his 2011 Giro d`Italia title and all his other victories last season.
He will also not be able to take part in either the 2012 Tour or the London Olympic Games.
Riis said his team and their sponsors fully supported Contador and that he hoped to continue working with him.
However, he said Contador`s contract would be "suspended" for the duration of the ban.
"We have as a team chosen to support Alberto 100 percent and give him the fullest support until things will prove that it should be different," Riis said.
"We can only respect the (CAS) ruling and this means that Alberto Contador now has to serve a ban.
"But the conclusion of the ruling is vital for the team, as the ruling focuses on the likely cause being ingestion of a contaminated supplement and at the same time states that this is unlikely to have been a case of conscious cheating."