CYCLING'S international governing body has sounded a word of warning to the Spanish federation considering the positive drug test returned by Alberto Contador before he won his third Tour de France this year, stressing it would seek to overturn an unsatisfactory ruling.
President of the Union Cysliste Internationale, Pat McQuaid, who moved this week to defend his organisation's attitude to doping surveillance following damning claims by drug cheat-turned whistleblower Floyd Landis, also forecast that the ''fairly straightforward'' Contador case would be resolved swiftly.
Contador stands to lose the third Tour de France crown he won in July following his positive test to the banned muscle-building and weight-loss stimulant clenbuterol on the second rest day of this year's Tour.
''If we aren't happy with the Spaniard's decision then we will consult with the World Anti-Doping Agency and go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport,'' McQuaid said. ''It must quite clearly be a fair result.''
Spain's cycling federation has said it will have a verdict on the national hero's case by mid-February and federation president Juan Carlos Castano has stated publicly that he hopes Contador is cleared but has tipped the matter will wind up in the Court of Arbitration for Sport regardless of the outcome.
McQuaid rejected the suggestion that it would take at least three months to adjudicate. ''The Contador case is fairly straightforward; it won't be long and drawn out,'' he said, comparing it to a doping case against another Spaniard, Alejandro Valverde.
Contador, who has claimed he ingested clenbuterol inadvertently by eating contaminated meat, risks a two-year ban, and has threatened to quit cycling regardless of the verdict. He has been provisionally suspended since the result of the urine sample revealed the banned substance.
Luxembourg's Andy Schleck stands to become the 2010 Tour de France champion if Contador is found guilty.