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Suspended rider continues to protest his innocence

An increasingly angry, frustrated and bitter Alberto Contador yesterday reiterated his complete innocence in the “meatgate” affair and took a swipe at his former team, Astana, for failing to stand by him since the story broke.

Contador is in danger of being stripped of his third Tour de France title and receiving a two your ban from competitive cycling after traces of clenbuterol - which he says he ingested through tainted Spanish beef - were found in his system.

The Spaniard gave an interview to national broadcaster TVE yesterday and, speaking about his innocence, said: “I have not had even a second of doubt. At no time have I done anything irregular.”

He also again suggested that if sanctioned there would be no guarantees that he would ever come back to the sport. “It’s too early to say but I can’t give assurances that I would continue,” he said.

Meanwhile Contador’s insistence that contaminated Spanish beef is the root of his problems has, unsurprisingly, not gone down well with the country’s meat industry. In a famously carnivorous nation, the impugning of Spain's meat producers by one of the nation’s most famous sportsmen has prompted a call for a formal inquiry by those involved in sating the country's appetite for animal flesh.

In particular, beef producers have effectively told Contador to put up or shut up. Rather than hearing unsubstantiated allegations being made through the media they want a proper inquiry to be launched, with any allegations formalised so they can be fully and scientifically investigated.