Tour de France will not reconsider Astana ban

Kazakhstan Materials 26 March 2008 21:13 (UTC +04:00)

Reigning champion Alberto Contador and his Astana team will not be invited to this year's Tour de France, race director Patrice Clerc reiterated on Wednesday. ( dpa )

"I am sorry but I can't show mercy. We will not reconsider our decision regarding Astana. It is unpleasant and harmful to exclude Astana, but necessary," Clerc insisted.

Clerc, the president of the ASO company which runs the Tour and other major cycling races events, said that Astana had not lived up to their promise from 2006 to overcome a doping-tainted past.

Team captain Alexander Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping at the 2007 Tour from which Astana then withdrew. Three riders in total failed doping tests and ASO decided last month to ban the team from its 2008 events even though new riders like Contador had joined in winter.

"We gave them a new chance but it was a catastrophe.

"The decision is not over Contador. We would have reached the decision earlier and more brutal if he hadn't been on the team," said Clerc.