Cycling: Contador 'will fight to defend innocence'

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The Independent Online

Alberto Contador will fight his proposed one-year doping ban, and said yesterday: "I will appeal in every possible court to defend my innocence".

The 28-year-old Spaniard, who won last year's Tour de France, tested positive for the banned anabolic agent clenbuterol on the second rest day of the Tour but has maintained his innocence, claiming the substance was in some contaminated meat.

As a result, the three-time Tour champion was provisionally suspended by the International Cycling Union (UCI), who commissioned the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) to open disciplinary proceedings against him.

Contador's spokesperson on Wednesday night issued a statement which confirmed the RFEC's ruling, with the Madrid-born rider given 10 days to appeal.

Speaking in Palma, Mallorca, yesterday, Contador said: "This is just a proposal and in the next 10 days I am going to work as hard as I can with my lawyers for justice. I am against this proposal. I will work to cancel it but in case it becomes definite, I will appeal in every possible court to defend my innocence."

Contador, who has won the three Grand Tours of France, Italy and Spain, could now be stripped of his latest Tour title.

The UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency are likely to seek the enforcement of the standard two-year ban. Contador has said he would consider his future in the sport if a 24-month ban was imposed.

Yesterday the rider attacked the authorities for the way the news emerged. "It's a disgrace that it was leaked to the press before it was made official to me," he added. "It's disgraceful what has happened. This has become a public court case."

Contador added: "I know the responsibility I have is huge, that I am an example to many. I have never doped myself, never. I can say loud and clear, with my head held high. I consider myself as an example of a clean sportsman. I find it difficult to handle the things that are said about me. The only mistake I have made is to have a piece of meat that I had not analysed to check if it had clenbuterol."