2007 Tour de France winnter Alberto Contador may possibly be barred from defending his title due to his involvement in yet another doping scandal. According to this article over at MSNBC.com, the Italian Olympic Committee is looking to bar any riders who were involved with the Operation Puerto doping scandal from riding in any events held in Italy this year. Operation Puerto which is said to have centered around two doctors and over 50 athletes, including Contador and Alejandro Valverde, another Tour favorite.
How could this effect the Spanish rider’s ability to ride in the Tour de France and defend his title you ask? Good question! Well, this year’s Tour has one of it’s legs ride through Italy. A leg that Contador would no longer be able to ride in if the Committee has it’s way.
Considering how awful last year’s Tour was in terms of doping scandals, positive tests, and crazy disqualifications, I’m sure the event would like to distance itself from controversy this year. Cycling is attempting to clean up it’s act and get tougher on those that have doped or are involved in these types of scandals. However, the sport is also losing it’s top stars over and over again, and Contador was believed to be a young rider who could help rebuild the reputation of the Sport. He has not tested positive, but because his name was mentioned in the probe, he may not be allowed to defend his Yellow Jersey this year.
For now, we’ll just have to stay tuned to see how this is resolved. If he did dope, I have no problems with him being out, but without hard evidence, I’d like to see him ride. The sport needs a great rider right now, and he might be the guy to lead it back into prominence. I’m not sure it can survive another season like 2007.