MADRID — Eddy Merckx wonders if someone is trying to "kill cycling."
The cycling great deplored the decision Monday to strip Alberto Contador of his 2010 Tour de France title and ban him two years for doping.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected Contador's claim that his positive test for clenbuterol was caused by eating contaminated meat. The Spaniard, who also won cycling's premier race in 2007 and '09, joined Floyd Landis as the only riders to lose a Tour title.
"It's very bad for cycling. It's bad for everybody. It's like someone wants to kill cycling," Merckx, a five-time Tour de France winner, said at the Tour of Qatar. "I'm very surprised, very surprised. It's bad for the sponsors. It's bad for the Tour (de France). It's bad for cycling."
Contador said he ate tainted beef on a Tour rest day. The top court in international sports called that "unlikely," saying the result was more likely caused by the "ingestion of a contaminated food supplement."
"Cycling always receives a bad name. It's always cycling that's attacked and other sports are never attacked. In other sports they don't go so far," Merckx said.
Contador has been banned from racing until Aug. 6 with all his results since Jan. 25, 2011, erased, including his Giro d'Italia victory in May.
Miguel Indurain, who dominated the Tour from 1991-95, said he was certain Contador would be cleared.
"The longer he waited, the more time passed, and at the end the penalty was the maximum that he could receive," Indurain was quoted as telling Marca TV by the Spanish news agency Europa Press. "Now he has to keep working and stay in shape."
Andy Schleck, who finished 39 seconds behind Contador in the 2010 Tour, is in line to become that year's champion. But the Luxembourg rider said that "will not make me happy."
"I feel sad for Alberto. I always believed in his innocence," Schleck said. "This is just a very sad day for cycling."