SPORTS

Four years after found guilty of doping, Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador announces retirement

Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador, whose career was marred by a doping scandal, announced he was planning to retire in 2016.

Contador, a one-time protégé of Lance Armstrong, struggled to make a comeback after he was slapped with a two-year ban after testing positive for hormones. He was forced to quit last year’s Tour de France after he crashed during stage 10 of the race and broke his leg.

“Next year will most likely be the last. ... I could change my mind if I have a mishap on the Tour like last year, for example, but little else could make me change,"

The 32-year-old Spaniard will start the season on Wednesday in the Vuelta a Andalucia, where he will compete against fellow former Tour winner Chris Froome.

Contador plans to ride in the Giro d'Italia and the Tour, but will skip this year's Spanish Vuelta.

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He has won the Tour twice, the Vuelta three times and the Giro once.

In 2012, the Court of Arbitration for Sport stripped Contador of his 2010 Tour de France title and banned the cyclist for two years after he was found guilty of doping. The sport's highest court suspended him after rejecting his claim that his positive test for clenbuterol was caused by eating contaminated meat on a 2010 Tour rest day.

Contador’s ruling came just three days after U.S. federal prosecutors dropped a doping investigation involving seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong. The American was a teammate of Contador during the Spaniard's 2009 Tour victory. The revised list of champions shows Armstrong and Contador combined to win nine of the 11 Tours from 1999-2009.

Contador blamed steak bought from a Basque producer for his high reading of clenbuterol, which is sometimes used by farmers to fatten their livestock. To avoid a doping ban, he needed to prove how the anabolic drug entered his body and convince the panel he was not to blame.

In its ruling, CAS said the presence of clenbuterol was more likely caused by a contaminated food supplement than by eating contaminated meat.

Contador is one of only five cyclists to win the three Grand Tours — the Tour, the Giro and the Vuelta. He also won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009.

Based on reporting by The Associated Press.

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