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Spanish Cyclist Wins Drug-Marred Tour de France


Spanish cyclist Alberto Contador Sunday won the drug-tainted Tour de France. The Tour has been plagued by scandals over doping, and this was the worst year yet. Anita Elash reports for VOA from Paris.

The winner was 24 year-old Alberto Contador, a member of the American Discovery Channel team. Contador is the first Spaniard to win the Tour de France in more than 10 years, and the youngest since German rider Jan Ulrich won in 1997.

Contador beat Australian cyclist Cadel Evans by just 23 seconds. It was the second-closest finish since the tour began more than one hundred years ago. And it delighted fans at the finish line on the Champs Elysees in Paris. Rob Diamond, who was in Paris from Canberra, Australia, said "It is a good result because they finally did have a race. There was a winner today, so we're happy now. It was a bit disappointing, all of that drugging stuff in the middle, but today was excellent. None of the rubbish and all of the fun, so it's been really good."

Contador catapulted into first place after a series of scandals over doping in the last week of the race. He had been in second place until the leader, Danish cyclist Michael Rasmussen, was dismissed after his team accused him of lying about his whereabouts before the Tour to avoid random drug tests.

Two other riders were also dismissed this week after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

The 3,500 kilometer tour has been plagued by drug scandals for several years. Last year, the winner, American cyclist Floyd Landis tested positive for testosterone.

After this year's scandals, tour organizers promised they will do everything possible to prevent doping in next year's race. But observers say it could take several years of strict enforcement before the race is completely clean.

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