Contador hires lawyer
Madrid - A lawyer who helped clear an Italian rider of doping will lead Alberto Contador's legal defence against allegations he used a banned drug during the Tour de France.
In a statement released on Wednesday by Contador's spokesperson, Jacinto Vidarte, the rider welcomed the investigation by the Spanish cycling federation and is "confident" and "optimistic" it will be resolved quickly so he can return to cycling for the start of next season.
"I'm happy that the case is with the federation because it means we can move forward," the statement quoted Contador as saying.
The Spaniard faces the possibility of a two-year ban and being stripped of his third Tour title after traces of the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol were found in a July 21 test.
Contador's defence will be led by Swiss lawyer Rocco Taminelli, who defended Franco Pellizotti when he was acquitted in October of doping charges in Italy. Taminelli showed there were irregular values in the cyclist's biological passport from samples taken after he placed third in the 2009 Giro d'Italia.
Contador contends contaminated meat is the only viable explanation for his failed test. According to Vidarte, Contador will submit a number of analyses from international scientists as part of his defence.
"Food contamination remains the only reasonable explanation - from a scientific point of view - to justify the presence of such a small quantity of clenbuterol in the cyclist's body during the last Tour of France," the statement read.
While Contador is hopeful of a quick decision, Spanish federation head Juan Carlos Castano doesn't expect one within the one-month deadline the International Cycling Union imposes on all cases.
Castano said Spanish law gives the federation up to three months to rule on the case. The UCI or World Anti-Doping Agency could take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport if not in agreement with the ruling.
Contador has been provisionally suspended since August after testing positive for the muscle-building and weight-loss drug on the day before a crucial mountain climb.
Contador, who also won the Tour in 2007 and '09 for Astana, has threatened to quit the sport regardless of the outcome. He signed a two-year deal to ride for Danish outfit Saxo Bank from 2011.