Alberto Contador, Bjarne Riis, and Saxo Bank – Tinkoff have gone on record that Contador will not be attending the Tour of Bejing unless his World Tour points count toward his team.
A Little Background
Last year Contador was found guilty of having Clenbutenol in his system. This conviction for doping removed means he lost his 2010 Tour de France victory and all results earned during the banned period which started June 21 2010 (the trial back dated the ban).
Doping sanctions also extend to the points a rider may accumulate for placement in races. These points are also applied to the team that the rider is on. Teams in the top 18 gain automatic entry to all World Tour races.
Why they’re pulling the star card
This season Saxo Bank – Tinkoff was team 18. They are sitting last of all ProTour teams. If they drop down to the next league they will have to rely on wild card entries for the big races like the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France. That can’t make their sponsors happy. They want coverage and the way to get coverage is to race the big races.
With Contador winning the Vuelta this last week, in style, he is at the forefront of fan’s minds. That makes this the perfect time to try and use his star power to bully the UCI in to removing the 2 year point ban.
I love watching Contador race. He is certainly the best Grand Tour rider of his generation, but I think the UCI should stand firm. I don’t think it’s worth running back 10 years to catch doping cheats, but we should be putting the screws to any dopers that are caught. The prospect of doping sanctions need to be severe enough that no one will even think about it. The consequences to teams needs to be high enough that they are going to make sure their riders are not doping and never encourage it. Contador doesn’t deserve to get a pass because he’s a star. That’s just going to get the UCI in to another situation like they have with Lance Armstrong now. Much of the public believes he used his star power to bully the UCI.
If Contador gets the UCI to back down then it will be fact, not just belief, that he was able to bully the UCI. Who will try to bully next? Bradley Wiggins? Phillipe Gilbert? The UCI has enough problems without making it blatant to everyone that they are push overs if you are popular enough.
I’m actually a bit disappointed in Contador. I thought he had more class than this. Maybe it’s the sponsors putting the pressure on the team? If so Riis needs to step up and protect his team from the pressure.
Get back to racing and stop all this political drama.