Thursday 30 June 2011

Contador: I can handle it

Alberto Contador would have been well aware when he woke up this morning that today would be an ordeal, knowing that he faced a grilling at the hands of the world's press who have gathered at Le Herbiers for the team presentations ahead of the Tour de France.

The questions were always going to be about one subject - the ongoing investigation into the doping allegations of which he was accused, then cleared and, come August, of which he must defend his innocence once again when he appears in front of the Court for Arbitration in Sport.

Yet Contador, who already has three Tour wins to his name, remained calm and retained his dignity. Through an interpretor, he told reporters that he understands this Tour will be the hardest race in which he has ever competed, physically and mentally. "The pressure is not only on the road but also outside of it," he said. "I have no problem with that." That preservation of dignity was not achieved by those in the crowd who booed his appearnane.

"I am sure it will be the case at the Tour de France where I will (be) one of the most tested riders" he added, thinking no doubt of those within the UCI and beyond - a recent poll conducted by French radio station Alouette FM revealed that almost two thirds of the nation's public believe he should have been barred from taking part in the Tour this year - who have hinted at their belief that his presence in the race is an embarrassment and makes a mockery of the hard-fought battle against doping. But, currently, he is cleared of all charges; he has been declared innocent, is free to race and nobody has more reason to ride clean than him - but even if every sample he produces is clean and wins by a huge margin, he will lose the title if the CAS find against him. That would be a pity, because even if he doped in the past he'll have to win this one fair and square.

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