By Paul Logothetis
The Spanish cycling federation is preparing to rule on Alberto Contador's doping case amid reports the body has decided to clear him.
Spanish media has reported that the proposed one-year ban handed to Contador last month will be dropped after he presented evidence that convinced the national federation he did not intentionally use clenbuterol.
If cleared, the Spanish cyclist - who blamed contaminated meet for his positive test during last year's Tour de France - would keep the title and be eligible to return immediately.
However, the International Cycling Union and World Anti-Doping Agency could appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
El Pais, El Mundo and Marca newspapers all cited anonymous sources within the federation as saying Contador would escape a ban.
Spanish federation head Juan Carlos Castano told The Associated Press the body's disciplinary committee was still deliberating Monday. He said the group was expected to reach a final verdict later Monday and notify Contador of the ruling Tuesday.
"There's a debate between the members of the jury," Castano said. "They have been deliberating since the weekend and they are aiming to rule soon."
The 28-year-old rider has received the backing of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who said last week that "there's no legal reason to justify sanctioning Contador."
Castano said the federation has full confidence the committee would not be swayed by extra pressure.
"I very much hope they will not be influenced by all of these declarations and news that is coming out," Castano said. "I am sure whatever they decide will represent a scrupulous decision that will respect the rights of all sides."
Contador's defense team would not comment until it received an official decision.
After receiving an initial one-year ban, Contador submitted further evidence citing UCI and WADA regulations that allow for a ban to be reduced or eliminated if an athlete shows no intention to cheat and proves unintentional consumption of a performance-enhancing drug.
Contador's case is not certain to be appealed. The UCI has said it would wait until it receives the final decision before taking a decision.
WADA opted not to appeal Friday after the German table tennis federation decided not to ban Dimitrij Ovtcharov, who tested positive for a minute trace of clenbuterol.
Contador's defense is also using the case of French tennis player Richard Gasquet, who avoided a ban after proving he inadvertently ingested cocaine after kissing a woman at a nightclub.
Contador's team also called on "the principle of equality" when it comes to analyzing athlete's samples. The lab where Contador's clenbuterol reading was discovered is one of the few that can detect the minute traces of the substance found in his system.
Clenbuterol is considered a zero-tolerance drug by WADA for its ability to build muscle and burn fat.