The International Cycling Union (UCI) on Thursday announced its decision to appeal the Spanish Cycling Federation's decision to absolve Tour de France champion Alberto Contador of a doping infractionat the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The Spanish RFEC, after studying the scientific reports submitted by Contador, cleared the cyclist of any wrongdoing on February 15. Contador returned a sample with trace elements of clenbuterol at last year's Tour and was subsequently placed on provisional suspension by the Spanish governing body. Contador, a three-times winner of the Tour,maintains that the banned substance, a steroid sometimes used illegally in cattle rearing, had entered his body via a contaminated steak.
UCI chief backs Contador probe; Tour head calls for decision
The president of the International Cycling Union, Pat McQuaid, on Friday backed the decision of the organization to appeal the Spanish Federation's absolution of Contador.
"I'm aware Contador is going to make a strong case, but the way the proceedings went in Spain meant that we really had no option but to do what we did," McQuaid said. "[The Spanish Federation's Disciplinary Committee] also received a huge amount of pressure from political sources, including the Prime Minister, saying he shouldn't be sanctioned," McQuaid added.
"Obviously he's an athlete of very high standing in Spain. But when you get the Spanish Prime Minister and the president of the Spanish Olympic Committee intervening and making statements when they don't know the facts of the case, it's just not right. The only way to ensure that we get a credible and just and fair result is to take it to a higher authority - which for us is CAS - that has credibility, that has the capacity to deal with this case and which the sports family will accept."
Tour de France general director Christian Prudhomme has called for a swift decision on the case: "CAS is sport's highest jurisdiction. We do not want a response, we want 'the' response - we have waited too long."