- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 26, 2011

MADRID | Spanish cycling officials want three-time Tour de France winner Alberto Contador banned for one year for failing a 2010 Tour doping test.

Contador cyclist confirmed the proposed sanction Wednesday in a statement released by his spokesman. He said the Spanish federation’s disciplinary committee informed him of the decision.

If banned, Contador would lose his third Tour title because of the positive clenbuterol result he blames on contaminated meat. The Spanish cyclist also would be ineligible to compete in this year’s Tour.

Contador has 10 days to challenge the one-year proposal by presenting new evidence or material, according to Spanish federation rules. After that, the four-person disciplinary committee will reconvene to decide whether to uphold or change the proposed sanction.

With seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong back in retirement, Contador is cycling’s biggest star, so it would be devastating for the sport if he is banned.

The 28-year-old Contador, who also won the Tour in 2007 and 2009, said he will hold a news conference on Friday in Palma de Mallorca, where he is taking part in preseason training with his Saxo Bank-SunGard team. Saxo Bank officials did not answer calls seeking comment Wednesday.

The final decision — expected around Feb. 10 — still could be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport by Contador, the International Cycling Union (UCI) or the World Anti-Doping Agency. The standard doping penalty is a two-year ban.

The UCI and WADA said they would wait until the final verdict before commenting.

The Spanish federation said it delivered an initial decision made by its disciplinary committee but declined to confirm the proposed one-year sanction.

If Contador were stripped of the 2010 Tour victory, the title would go to runner-up Andy Schleck of Luxembourg.

Contador would be the second cyclist to lose the Tour title. The first was American Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour victory after a positive test. For years, Landis denied doping but admitted last year that he used performance-enhancing drugs.

Contador, winner of both the Giro d’Italia and Spanish Vuelta in 2008, tested positive during a rest day at last year’s Tour.

Contador said he and four other Astana teammates ate beef on July 20 in the Spanish border town of Irun and that he was the only one who underwent a doping test on July 21.

Clenbuterol, a muscle-building, weight-loss drug, is considered a banned substance by WADA. It is sometimes given to cows, pigs and other animals to increase their growth rate.

Contador said he learned of the test results on Aug. 24 and met with UCI doctors two days later. Contador went public with the news in September.


AP Sports Writer John Leicester in Paris contributed to this report.


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