A grim-faced Alberto Contador has said food poisoning was to blame for his positive dope test and 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 International Cycling Union said 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 on the second rest day of the race in July.
"It's a case of food poisoning, in which I am the victim," Contador said.
"Whether people believe me or not, I know I can hold my head high and I'm not going to hide."
Contador's B test returned a reading of 0.000 000 000 05 grams of clenbuterol per mililitre, he said.
"Only four laboratories in the world have enough equipment to find it, and in any other it would have been undetectable," said Contador.
"This is a real error. The system is very questionable and it has to be changed. I cannot tolerate the idea of a possible sanction."
Before leaving the press conference to a wave of applause, Contador admitted that with the succesion of ongoing scandals in cycling it was "almost the norm" for people to doubt the sport.
"However, I always defend doping controls, and you won't find a person who is more reliable when it comes to being located for out-of-racing tests."
"Right now I'm not worried about my Tour results, I just want this all to be cleared up so my family can stop worrying so much."