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article imageAlberto Contador jeered by crowd at Tour de France presentation

By Kimberley Pollock     Jul 1, 2011 in Sports
Three-times Tour de France champion Alberto Contador felt the crowds displeasure as he was booed and whistled at the team presentation on Thursday.
Approximately 7,000 people packed the Puy-du-Fou, a replica Roman circus, to watch a presentation of the 22 cycling teams and their 198 riders. The dramatic presentation included chariots, musketeers, spanish dancers and the Norse god Thor, played by current world champion Thor Hushovd.
All riders, including Contador’s main rival Andy Schleck, were applauded and cheered. Contador’s Saxo Bank team were last to take to the podium and were booed, whistled and jeered by about half the crowd, reports Australia’s Cycling Central website.
Contador is still under a cloud of controversy from failing a dope test for the banned drug clenbuterol in last year's Tour. While he has been cleared by the Spanish federation, a final decision on the case is yet to be made by the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS).
According to Reuters, a recent survey by a French radio station showed that 63 percent of French people polled were against Contador's participation in the Tour.
Saxo Bank team manager and former Tour de France winner, Bjarne Riis said earlier on Thursday that Contador should be treated as innocent until proven guilty, reports Cycling Central. He said, "Those are the rules and we have to accept the rules. That's the way the system works and we have to respect it as it is.”
Comments on the Cycling Central website show that fans are divided on the issue:
“The fact the case was delayed means until he is proven guilty he should be allowed to race. Personally I'm happy to see him there purely because he is a GREAT rider The more competitive the tour the better for the spectactors I feel.”
“Why should we believe that Contador is clean, rather than he just got careless with his cheating?”
“I had hoped that the tour organisers would have come out and said that in the interests of showing how committed they are to the sport being clean that until WADA or CAS had delivered their findings AC was not welcome.”
"Sportsmanship anyone? Innocent till guilty? It has taken time for me to warm to Contador. The Pistol? and the Schleck chain incident … I have to admire his resilience. He's a tough guy, and an amazing rider.”
“It appears that whilst the Spanish Federation accepts the whole "it was the meat, honest sir!" explanation, the wider cycling public are duly skeptical.”
One thing most of the fans and the cycling community do seem to agree on is that the Contador doping case should have been settled well before the start of the 2011 Tour de France. His case is now scheduled to be heard in August.
The Tour de France starts Saturday.
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