Feb 12, 2011 - Three-time Tour de France champion Alberto Contador could learn whether he is to be banned from cycling for doping on Monday, widespread reports have claimed.
Contador's future has hung in the balance since he announced last August he had tested positive for minute traces of the banned substance clenbuterol during last July's race.
Despite repeatedly denying taking any banned substances, blaming the result on a steak he claims was contaminated by the drug, it increasingly looks like stage racing's biggest talent will be banned.
The Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) made a proposal last month to ban Contador for a year, an offer which was seen by experts as a compromise deal.
The RFEC would "announce on Monday" a definitive decision regarding Contador, according to Saturday's El Pais newspaper, while AS sports daily added "the decision will come on Monday or Tuesday".
El Pais added that the RFEC is currently poring over a comprehensive dossier submitted by Contador's defence team.
Contador complained Thursday the RFEC, in proposing a one-year ban, had buckled to pressure from the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The UCI appeared to pour water on those comments Friday by saying it expects the RFEC, which has the task of sanctioning Contador first before the UCI can take any further action, to reach any decision in a "composed manner".
UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani said Friday: "We have full confidence that when the Spanish federation makes its decision it will have done so in a composed manner."
He hinted that despite the uncertainty over Contador's positive - only minute traces of clenbuterol, not enough to enhance his performance in itself, were found - the UCI would show no quarter, reminding media that a clenbuterol positive usually leads to a two-year ban.
On Thursday Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero got behind the famous cyclist, claiming "there is no legal reason to sanction Contador".
If the UCI does not agree with whatever sanction is handed down it can appeal the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to seek the punishment it believes Contador merits.
Contador also has the possibility to appeal to CAS.