Alberto Contador: No reason to pull out

Updated: May 6, 2011, 7:05 PM ET
Associated Press

TURIN, Italy -- Tour de France champion Alberto Contador defended his right to compete in the Giro d'Italia and said Friday that there is no reason for him to withdraw despite being under investigation for doping.

Contador tested positive for clenbuterol while winning the 2010 Tour, but was cleared of doping by the Spanish cycling federation after he blamed the result on eating contaminated beef.

Cycling's governing body and the World Anti-Doping Agency have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which is expected to issue a ruling before this year's Tour in July.

Some teams left out riders involved in doping investigations from this year's Giro. The BMC team withdrew Alessandro Ballan and Mauro Santambrogio, while Movistar cut Marzio Bruseghin.

"I don't know what the situation is with those riders. But my situation is different," Contador said. "I have been cleared and I hope that in the future there will be the same verdict. But you can't make any comparison between those guys and me."

If he is cleared by CAS, Contador will be able to race for a third consecutive Tour de France title, but said riding both the Giro and the Tour is a tough task.

"It wasn't difficult to decide on the Giro because of the situation with the Tour, but it is possible to do both," Contador said. "I chose the Giro because I have good memories of 2008 and I've wanted to come back ever since.

"I am also thinking about the Tour as well, but for now I am here for the Giro and not thinking about anything else. I will try to do as well as I can in the Giro. It will be hard to do both as this Giro is such a hard race."

With five Grand Tour titles to his name, including the 2008 Giro, Contador is favored to win in Italy.

Local favorites Vincenzo Nibali and Michele Scarponi are expected to be his main rivals and Contador said they will be under greater pressure to succeed than him.

"Usually everybody tries to pressure me, but that is normal," Contador said. "The pressure is somewhat different for the Giro. At the Tour, everybody expects me to fail. Here it is different.

"I intend to take the race day by day. In my opinion, I think there are other riders with more pressure on them than me, such as Nibali and Scarponi. If you are not Italian it is hard to understand how important this race is."

Nibali emerged as Italy's best hope of a domestic winner after 2010 champion Ivan Basso decided not to defend his title and focus on the Tour de France instead.

Last year, Nibali finished third in the Giro behind Basso and David Arroyo before winning the Spanish Vuelta later in the summer.

"It is going to be very difficult to beat Alberto Contador, whether in a time trial or the longer routes," Nibali said. "We need to take the right options on the road and have to see how it works out over the course.

"I will be treating this race as I always would. In a calm manner. It wouldn't be a disaster if I didn't win, so long as I gave my all."

The 21-stage Giro starts Saturday with a team time trial in Turin and concludes with an individual time trial in Milan on May 29.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press