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Contador stripped of Tour title

By Diane Pucin, Los Angeles Times –

Alberto Contador, for a brief time Lance Armstrong’s cycling teammate, had his 2010 Tour de France title taken away and a two-year ban for doping enforced Monday by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

CAS’ ruling upheld decisions by the International Cycling Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency, which had fought to uphold penalties against Contador after a Spanish cycling tribunal exonerated him last year.

The 29-year-old Spaniard failed a doping test that had been conducted during the last rest day of the 2010 Tour de France.

Contador tested positive for clenbuterol, which is used in muscle-building and weight loss and is prohibited by the International Cycling Union.

Contador argued that the substance must have come from his eating of contaminated meat that a friend had brought him from Spain to France.

The CAS ruling, which came from its headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, said, in part, “The presence of clenbuterol was more likely caused by the ingestion of a contaminated food supplement.”

CAS also noted that “Spain is not known to have a contamination problem with clenbuterol in meat” and that “no other cases of athletes having tested positive to clenbuterol allegedly in connection with the consumption of Spanish meat are known.”

Contador gave no comment Monday, but he is expected to hold a news conference in his hometown of Pinto, near Madrid, on Tuesday. He becomes the second cyclist in history to be stripped of a Tour de France title.

Floyd Landis, an American who had joyously come from the back of the peloton to explode up a mountain climb in the 2006 Tour, also failed a doping test and had his title stripped.

Landis wrote a book and tried to raise a million dollars to help defend himself, but two years ago he told the Wall Street Journal that not only did he dope, but he also had witnessed Armstrong doping.

Monday’s decision about Contador came three days after U.S. prosecutors announced they were dropping their investigation into doping claims against Armstrong, who is retired.

Contador and Armstrong were teammates in 2009 on the Astana team when Armstrong made a comeback after a 31/2-year retirement.

It was an uncomfortable alliance that year when Contador won the Tour de France and Armstrong finished third.

A year later, Armstrong and Contador were no longer teammates when Armstrong raced in his last Tour de France, finishing in 23rd place.

Andy Schleck, who finished second, 39 seconds behind Contador in that race, is now in line to be declared the winner. He told reporters in Europe, however, he felt no happiness at the decision.

“I feel sad for Alberto. I always believed in his innocence,” Schleck said. “This is just a very sad day for cycling.”

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