I'll fight to clear my name - Contador
Contador vows to continue cycling after being found guilty of doping
ALBERTO CONTADOR is considering appealing against the two-year ban he was handed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for failing a dope test during his victorious 2010 Tour de France campaign.
The Spaniard, stripped of that Tour title in Monday's CAS ruling, told a packed news conference in his home town of Pinto, near Madrid, that he was innocent of doping and planned to return to competition when the retroactive ban ends in August.
"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 said that Contador was a "doping cheat" and insisted that the agency had had no choice but to appeal to CAS after the RFEC exonerated the rider.
Contador could now face a $6m (¤4.5m) bill after losing his legal battle. The tribunal said it will make a separate decision on a request by UCI to fine Contador at least ¤2.5m and "70pc of the variable part of his image contract".
Contador, 29, may have racked up ¤2m in legal fees in defending himself.
"The money runs out very quickly in these cases," said Daniel Malbranque, the former general secretary of the professional riders' union. "He's been paying lawyers non-stop for 18 months."
The case has cost both sides "millions" of euros in legal fees, UCI president Pat McQuaid said recently.
Most of Contador's earnings come from his team salary, according to his spokesman, Jacinto Vidarte.
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 (it) focuses on the likely cause being ingestion of a contaminated supplement and states that this is unlikely to have been a case of conscious cheating."