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Category: Tour de France

Alberto Contador stripped of 2010 Tour de France title

Alberto Contador

Alberto Contador has been found guilty of doping and was stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title Monday by sport's highest court.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport also suspended the Spanish cyclist for two years, rejecting his claim that he tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol because he ate contaminated meat.

“Unlike certain other countries, notably outside Europe, Spain is not known to have a contamination problem with clenbuterol in meat,” the three-man panel said in a ruling that upheld appeals by the International Cycling Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency after a Spanish cycling tribunal exonerated Contador last year.

“Furthermore, no other cases of athletes having tested positive to clenbuterol allegedly in connection with the consumption of Spanish meat are known.”

Contador continued racing after testing postive on a rest day during the 2010 Tour.

He will be stripped of all results after Jan. 25, 2011, the day the Spanish federation proposed a one-year ban.

The sports court backdated its ban, leaving the three-time winner of the Tour de France ineligible to compete until Aug. 6. That means he will be able to compete in the Spanish Vuelta but will miss such events as the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the London Olympics.

Contador has made no comments since the decision but is expected to hold a news conference Tuesday.

Andy Schleck of Luxembourg stands to be elevated from second to first place in the 2010 Tour.

Contador is only the second Tour champion to be stripped of victory for doping, following Floyd Landis of the U.S.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Alberto Contador during the 2010 Tour de France. Credit: Nicolas Bouvy / EPA

Tour de France: Andy Schleck wins Stage 18

Tour de France Andy Schleck
Andy Schleck led a daring attack to win the 18th stage of the Tour de France on Thursday, leaving Thomas Voeckler clinging to the yellow jersey and defending champion Alberto Contador out of contention.

Contador had a dismal final climb, and the Spaniard insisted that his chances are gone for a fourth title in cycling's showcase race.

"Victory is impossible now," he said. "I had a bad day. My legs didn't respond, and I just hit a wall. It was a very difficult day right from the start."

Schleck began the day in fourth place and is now 15 seconds behind Voeckler. He attacked his top rivals on the second of three grueling climbs and held on all the way on the fabled Galibier pass to the highest-altitude finish in the race's 108-year history.

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Tour de France: Edvald Boasson Hagen wins Stage 17

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Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway won the 17th stage of the Tour de France on Wednesday, the first of three in the Alps. Thomas Voeckler held onto the yellow jersey, but lost time after riding off the course on the final descent.

In the race for the overall victory, defending champion Alberto Contador made repeated attempts to get away from his rivals, but was caught on each occasion. He finished in the same time as Cadel Evans, the Schleck brothers and Samuel Sanchez. Voeckler lost 27 seconds and is now 1 minute, 18 seconds ahead of Evans.

Boasson Hagen completed the 179 kilometers (111 miles) across the Alps from Gap to the Italian town of Pinerolo in 4 hours, 18 minutes. Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands was second, 40 seconds back, with Sandy Casar of France winning the sprint for third.

It was the second victory for Boasson Hagen and the fourth for Norway in this year's race.

It was also a form of revenge, after he was beaten into second by his compatriot Thor Hushovd on Tuesday.

“It was very difficult yesterday, and today I was able to do better,” said Boasson Hagen. “I felt I was capable of attacking on the last climb.”

Second place went to Bauke Mollema of the Netherlands, after Frenchman Jonathan Hivert crashed on the perilous final descent of the Pramartino. Sandy Casar of France was third, while Hivert got back on his bike and came in ninth.

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Photos: 2011 Tour de France

Thor Hushovd wins Stage 16 of Tour de France

Photo: Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen celebrates at the finish line as he wins Stage 17 of the 2011 Tour de France on Wednesday. Credit: Pascal Pavani / AFP / Getty Images

Tour de France: Thor Hushovd wins Stage 16

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World champion Thor Hushovd of Norway led a three-man breakaway to win a rainy 16th stage of the Tour de France on Tuesday, as overall race leader Thomas Voeckler lost crucial seconds against two top race favorites.

Three-time champion Alberto Contador attacked in the final climb of Tuesday's 101-mile route from Saint-Paul-Trois-Chateaux to Gap — and reduced his deficit in the title quest.

Hushovd won his second stage this Tour by outpacing fellow Norwegian Edvald Boassen Hagen in second and Hushovd's Garmin-Cervelo teammate Ryder Hesjedal in third.

Hushovd, a 32-year-old veteran long known as a star sprinter, showed off his new talents when he won Stage 13 over a big climb. This time, he displayed a puncher's ability to break away on a more rolling course.

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Tour de France: Samuel Sanchez wins Stage 12

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Spanish climbing specialist Samuel Sanchez won Thursday's 12th stage of the Tour de France and Thomas Voeckler of France retained the overall lead as the race entered the high mountains for the first time.

After a string of setbacks earlier in the race, defending champion Alberto Contador struggled up the main climb and lost crucial seconds to other pre-race favorites for overall victory.

The 131.1-mile trek from Cugnaux to the Luz-Ardiden ski station featured three tough climbs in the Pyrenees — including two that are among the hardest in pro cycling.

Sanchez and Belgian rider Jelle Vanendert overtook a group of breakaway riders in the final climb and held on, with the Spaniard winning their two-man sprint in the last several hundred yards. Vanendert crossed 7 seconds later.

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Mark Cavendish wins 11th stage of Tour de France; Thomas Voeckler keeps yellow jersey

Tour_640 Mark Cavendish of Britain won a rainy 11th stage of the Tour de France in a mass sprint Wednesday, while Thomas Voeckler kept the race leader's yellow jersey.

Cavendish edged Andre Greipel of Germany on the line after the 104-mile trek from Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur to seize the best sprinter's green jersey.

Cavendish made the most of the last stage designed for sprinters before the race reaches the Pyrenees. He claimed his 18th stage win at the Tour, his third in this year's race, winning in 3 hours, 46 minutes, 7 seconds.

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Andre Greipel wins Stage 10 of Tour de France; Thomas Voeckler keeps yellow jersey

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German sprinter Andre Greipel won Tuesday's 10th stage of the Tour de France, beating former teammate Mark Cavendish by a wheel's length in a dash to the line for his first win in cycling's showcase race.

French rider Thomas Voeckler keeps the yellow jersey after nestling safely in the main pack for most of the 158-kilometer (98.2-mile) route from Aurillac to Carmaux.

Wednesday's 11th stage is another flat route for sprinters before riders reach the grueling climbs of the Pyrenees.

Cavendish looked to have sealed his third stage win of this year's Tour, and 18th of his career, when he turned into the final straight and pedaled hard.

But Greipel timed his attack to perfection, storming past Cavendish in the last 20 meters with a late burst of speed to edge out his rival, punching the air in delight as he crossed the line for his first Tour stage win.

“It's the moment I've been waiting for all year,” said Greipel, who rides for the Omega Pharma-Lotto team. “It's the most beautiful race in the world and the most famous. To win here is sensational.”

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Failed drug test or not, looks like Alberto Contador can ride Tour de France

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About a two months after Alberto Contador won the 2010 Tour de France -- his third -- the UCI, the international governing body for cycling, announced that Contador had failed a drug test. He had traces of the anabolic agent clenbuterol in his system. Contador, of Spain, has argued ever since that the clenbuterol got into his system because he ate tainted meat.

There seemed to be no gray area. The sport's rules don't allow for accidental ingestion of clenbuterol, but the appeals process has been lengthy and the court of first appeal, the Spanish cycling federation, believed Contador's explanation and cleared the rider.

The UCI rejected the Spanish federation's decision and now Contador's case will be heard in front of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). That hearing was scheduled for this month and would have allowed for a decision before the 2011 Tour de France. But on Monday, WADA postponed the hearing until August.

So it seems Contador will be eligible to defend his Tour de France title, even though he has a failed drug test from his 2010 victory.

Even Contador seemed to have been pessimistic about competing at the Tour de France this year. On Sunday, he completed the grueling three-week Giro d'Italia by winning it. Most serious contenders for the Tour de France don't compete in the Giro or complete it at a high enough level to win.

Contador's predecessor as the dominator of the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong, is under a federal investigation for illegal doping during the time he won seven straight Tour titles.

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Photo: Alberto Contador of team Astana celebrates victory on the podium after the final stage of the 2010 Tour de France 2010. Credit: Bryn Lennon / Getty Images

Alberto Contador gets one-year suspension for failed doping test [Updated]

Contador_300 The Spanish cycling federation has suspended Tour de France champion Alberto Contador for one year over his failed doping test in the 2010 race, the newspaper El Pais reported Wednesday.

The Spaniard was informed of the decision by the federation's competition committee and has 10 days to appeal it before a final decision is made, the paper said without identifying the source of its information.

[Updated at 2:08 p.m.: Contador confirmed Wednesday that the Spanish cycling federation had proposed banning him for one year. “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 cyclist's spokesman.]

-- Reuters

Photo: Alberto Contador. Credit: Jaime Reine / AFP/Getty Images

Cyclist Alberto Contador stands by tainted-meat claim

Contador_300 Tour de France champion Alberto Contador's lawyers on Wednesday challenged a reported World Anti-Doping Agency document that concludes his positive Tour de France test could not have been caused by tainted meat.

El Pais newspaper said a WADA team visited the slaughterhouse and butcher's shop in Irun, Spain, that provided the beef Contador contends led to the positive finding for clenbuterol. The newspaper also said it obtained a WADA report that determined the clenbuterol in Contador's sample "could not have come from possibly contaminated meat" and also ruled out asthma medication as a cause.

"None of the inspections and none of the tests on samples of meat found traces of clenbuterol, a banned drug used to fatten cattle quickly," El Pais said.

In a statement released by Contador spokesman Jacinto Vidarte, the rider's legal team said that after studying all the material it received from the International Cycling Union -- including the WADA report -- "“it is impossible to determine that the meat was not contaminated."

Contador's legal team argued that WADA's investigation "lacked strength" because it did not investigate all the possibilities of food contamination and was limited to questions -- rather than actual analysis -- related to the slaughterhouse and ranch where the meat came from.

"The European Union's present system of monitoring meat is not perfect nor sufficient enough in detecting fraud where it exists," the Contador statement said.

WADA spokesman Frederic Donze declined comment to the Associated Press.

Contador, a three-time Tour de France champion, remains provisionally suspended. He risks losing his latest Tour title and faces a two-year ban if found guilty of doping.

The WADA report was passed on to the Spanish cycling federation from the UCI. The Spanish disciplinary committee is investigating Contador's case and will issue a ruling.

The 27-year-old cyclist, who has threatened to quit the sport regardless of the outcome, said he would be willing to submit all materials from his team's own investigation to the Spanish federation and to meet with the panel in the coming days.

According to El Pais, WADA's report said Contador's "main problem" in proving his innocence is that "his entire defense rests on the involuntary ingestion of the meat contaminated with clenbuterol in such a tiny amount that it had no effect on his performance."

WADA referred to a 2008 European Union study in which 300,000 meat samples were tested and traces of clenbuterol were found in only one. It added that farmers will not slaughter their cattle until at least 20 days after the last dose of clenbuterol has been administered to avoid being caught and allow the steroid to have its full "fattening-up" effect.

-- Associated Press

Photo: Alberto Contador flashes three fingers for his third Tour de France victory. Credit: Christophe Ena / Associated Press

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador to be investigated for doping

Contador_400 Spain's Alberto Contador could be stripped of his 2010 Tour de France victory and likely be banned from competition for two years if found guilty in an investigation by the Spanish cycling federation.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) said Monday it asked for the investigation after deliberating with the World Anti-Doping Agency since the three-time Tour winner was provisionally suspended for testing positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol during this year's race.

"At the end of a long and meticulous inquiry entrusted to highly qualified, WADA-accredited experts, and considering all the information currently in its possession, the UCI has concluded that disciplinary proceedings should be opened against Alberto Contador," the organization said in a statement.

The statement also said that due to the small traces of the banned substance found in Contador's urine sample, additional tests were performed on all of the rider's blood and urine samples during the period in question. "Alberto Contador still benefits from a presumption of innocence,” the statement said.

Contador has denied doping and has said the traces of the banned substance came from contaminated meat.

-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Photo: Alberto Contador. Credit: Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters

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