Cyclist from Spain faces suspension of one year

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Cyclist from Spain faces suspension of one year

MADRID - The Royal Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) has decided to suspend Tour de France champion Alberto Contador for one year over his failed drug test in last year’s race.

“Alberto Contador has today received 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 today in Mallorca, where he is training with his Saxo Bank team, Vidarte said.

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 he 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 because the International Cycling Union (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, the 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 over Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck, who will be regarded as the hot favorite for this year’s race should Contador miss the event. UCI chief Pat McQuaid said earlier this month that Contador was likely to miss the tour because the rider would be suspended or because 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-time tour champion Lance Armstrong is also the focus of a federal investigation in the U.S. after Landis alleged last year that the 39-year-old Texan and other prominent figures in the sport had doped.

Armstrong has always denied doping.

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