Paris: The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) suspended Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador for two years for a doping offence he committed during the 2010 Tour de France, officials said.
The suspension, which runs through to August 6, 2012, means that Contador is stripped of his victory in the race that year and will be unable to take part in this year`s edition.
Contador tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol during the 2010 Tour de France, but he was subsequently cleared by the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) in February 2011, prompting the WADA and the International Cycling Union (UCI) to appeal the decision to CAS.
The 29-year-old Spaniard claimed he had ingested the banned substance by eating a contaminated steak, an explanation which satisfied the RFEC but which failed to pass muster with the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Apart from losing his 2010 Tour de France title, the verdict means that Contador is stripped of all his wins in 2011, which include the Giro d`Italia.
The CAS verdict, which was handed down after a series of suspensions and controversies, was made by a three-man jury consisting of Israeli Efraim Barack, Swiss Quentin Byrne-Sutton and Ulrich Haas of Germany.
In reaction, the UCI said though it derived no satisfaction from the verdict, it "welcomed the news as the end of a long-running affair that has been extremely painful for cycling."
"This is a sad day for our sport. Some may think of it as a victory, but that is not at all the case," said UCI President Pat McQuaid. "There are no winners when it comes to the issue of doping - every case, irrespective of its characteristics, is always a case too many."
Contador`s win in 2010 was his third in the Tour de France and under UCI rules his suspension means he would forfeit the victory to Andy Schleck of Luxembourg, who finished as runner-up.