Alberto Contador cleared to ride in Tour de France

Alberto Contador
Three-time Tour de France champion Contador recently won the Giro d'Italia

Spain's Alberto Contador is free to defend his Tour de France title after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) said his doping case would be heard after the race.

The 28-year-old is waiting to hear if the Cas will reverse a verdict by the Spanish Cycling Federation that cleared him of any offence in last year's Tour.

Contador tested positive for taking clenbuterol during a rest day.

The hearing was postponed last week and will now be heard from 1-3 August.

This year's Tour de France is from 2-24 July but if Contador wins his fourth Tour title, there could be a cloud over his latest achievement.

Contador faces a possible two-year ban and being stripped of his 2010 Tour de France title if the Lausanne-based court finds against him.

His case reached Cas after the International Cycling Union (UCI) and World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) appealed against the initial verdict.

Contador tested positive for the banned drug clenbuterol - he had minute traces of it in his urine samples - days before his third Tour de France win, in July 2010.

But he claims the traces came from contaminated meat.

Clenbuterol, similar to the asthma drug salbutamol, is used to treat breathing disorders as a decongestant and bronchodilator. It causes an increase in aerobic capacity, blood pressure and oxygen transportation, and speeds the rate at which fats are burned.

Wada adopts a zero-tolerance policy towards the drug, though its rules allow athletes to escape a sanction if they prove "no fault or negligence" on their part.

Last September the UCI announced that Contador was provisionally suspended and asked the Spanish federation to investigate.

The federation's disciplinary committee originally proposed a one-year ban for Contador in January 2011, but his legal team then offered new evidence and he was cleared to race three weeks later.

Days before the decision, Spain's Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, had said there was "no legal reason to justify sanctioning Contador".

The case does not appear to be distracting Contador, who won his second Giro d'Italia title last weekend.

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