Contador maintains innocence
Tour de France winner Alberto Contador blames food poisoning for his positive dope test result, which risks his title.
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2010 14:44 GMT
Contador celebrates his third Tour de France win in Paris in July after beating Andy Schleck [GALLO/GETTY] 

A grim-faced Alberto Contador has said food poisoning was to blame for his positive dope test result, which could threaten his title. The three-times Tour de France winner could "hold his head high" and should not face sanctions.

The Spaniard has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for a "very small concentration" of banned anabolic agent clenbuterol during this year's race, cycling's governing body (UCI) revealed on Thursday.

Speaking at a packed press conference in a hotel on the outskirts of his home town of Pinto, Contador told reporters his failed test came as a result of eating contaminated meat.

"It is a clear case of food poisoning," Contador said.

"UCI is in touch with the International Doping Agency to try to not commit a scientific mistake due to the singularity of this case. This case cannot be compared to any other case of clenbuterol because - as I was the leader of Tour de France - I passed a test before July 21. Before July 20, I passed a test and the day before."

Contador, who won his third tour this year, was tested during the second rest day of the race and the second B test had confirmed the presence of clenbuterol, the UCI said in a statement.

Contador, who is leaving Astana to join Bjarne Riis's Saxo Bank team next season, said he would not allow the positive test ruin his cycling career.

"I am not going to let a thing like this to ruin everything. Sincerely. My life is more than settled, I
don´t need to prove anything. But I cannot permit this. I cannot throw everything in the bin and not fight and stop doing what I love to do. I don´t think it is going to be easy, but I don´t expect it to affect me," Contador said.

Clenbuterol can be abused by athletes to strip fat and enhance muscle size and can have short-term stimulant effects including increasing aerobic capacity, blood pressure and alertness.

It has led to bans for cyclists in the past.

'Further scientific investigations'

The concentration in Contador's A test was "400 time(s) less than what the antidoping laboratories accredited by (World Anti-Doping Agency) WADA must be able to detect," the UCI said in a statement.

The case would require "further scientific investigation" before any conclusion could be drawn, and that
could take some time, the statement added, providing no further details.

The finding puts 27-year-old Contador's Tour de France victory with Kazakh-funded Astana in July under a cloud of suspicion and threatens to leave an indelible stain on the Spaniard, who also won the 2007 and 2009 Tours. Contador is regarded one of the greatest cyclists of the modern era.

"I trust and I believe in the UCI and the International Doping Agency, in their professionally and
their experts to clear all this thing out. And, referring to my name being questioned, it's always complicated when cases like this one show up," Contador said.

The Contador finding is another blow for elite cycling, which has struggled to shake off its image as a sport riddled with drug cheats.

Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.