Saxo Bank keeps elite status despite Contador ban

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AIGLE, Switzerland (AP) -- Saxo Bank will keep its place on the 2012 World Tour despite failing to qualify without the ranking points earned by Alberto Contador, the two-time Tour de France winner banned two years for doping.

The International Cycling Union says its license commission made the decision even though Saxo Bank ended Contador's contract when the Court of Arbitration for Sport imposed the ban in February. The Spaniard tested positive for clenbuterol in winning the 2010 Tour.

Cycling's governing body had asked for the Danish team to be dropped. President Pat McQuaid says the panel "took its decision in an entirely independent manner."

Contador, who won the Tour in 2007 and '09, was stripped of the 2010 title. He can race again in August.