CAS sets dates after Tour de France

ZURICH -- Alberto Contador is free to defend his Tour de France title, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport decided Tuesday to hear his doping case after the race ends.

The court said it would hear the case from Aug. 1-3, more than a week after the Tour finishes July 24 in Paris.

The International Cycling Union and World Anti-Doping Agency are challenging the Spanish cycling federation's decision to clear the three-time Tour champion of doping after he tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol last July. A tribunal accepted Contador's explanation that he consumed the drug in contaminated beef.

Contador secured his second Giro d'Italia victory last weekend and will again be the favorite to win the Tour, meaning a guilty verdict by CAS could see the Spanish rider stripped of two victories in the sport's biggest race for a single positive test.

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani confirmed that the governing body's and WADA's rules called for a sanctioned rider to lose all race results gained since the date of a test.

"We will ask for disqualification of all the results since the day of the (doping) control," Carpani told The Associated Press by telephone. "However, the UCI is open to any decision taken by the CAS and will accept it without any problem."

Carpani said the governing body wanted cycling fans to support the legal process even if they objected to Contador competing in the Tour under circumstances "considered negative."

"We invite everyone to accept this. We know that some people could be a little bit disappointed," he said.

That includes Tour director Christian Prudhomme.

"We kept saying and repeating since last autumn that we wanted the case to be settled before the start of the Tour," Prudhomme said in a phone interview. "Unfortunately it won't be the case. There is procedure, and in his case the appeal doesn't come with a suspension. This year he already raced in Portugal, in Spain, in Belgium, and he just won the Giro. There is nothing we can do."

CAS had originally planned to hear the case June 6-8, aiming to issue a verdict by the end of the month. That would have either exonerated Contador or barred him from starting the Tour on July 2, but the dates were pushed back to give both sides more time to prepare.

Despite the uncertainty in his career, Contador has won a series of stage races this season, including the three-week Giro d'Italia that ended last weekend.