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Page last updated at 17:38 GMT, Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Spanish rider Alberto Contador cleared of doping charge

Alberto Contador
Contador beat Andy Schleck by 39 seconds to win the 2010 Tour de France

Alberto Contador has been cleared by the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) after winning his appeal against a provisional one-year doping ban.

The three-time Tour de France champion tested positive for banned substance clenbuterol during the race in 2010.

The Spaniard, 28, protested his innocence, claiming contaminated meat was responsible for his failed test.

Contador was cleared of knowingly using banned drugs and will now take part in the Tour of Algarve from Wednesday.

The RFEC's ruling came three weeks after it recommended Contador serve a one-year ban rather than the standard two-year penalty.

To both the team and the authorities I have explained that I never cheated or deliberately took a banned substance

Alberto Contador

The sport's governing body, the UCI, and the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) have the right to challenge the decision.

"First of all, I'm relieved and obviously very happy about this ruling," Contador said.

"It has been some very stressful months for me, but throughout the case I have been totally available for all inquiries in relation to my case, and all the way through I have spoken in accordance with the truth.

"To both the team and the authorities I have explained that I never cheated or deliberately took a banned substance."

The UCI said it was waiting to receive the full dossier and would issue a decision on whether it would appeal within 30 days.

"The UCI reserves the right to conduct an in-depth study of the reasons behind the decision before expressing its opinion," the cycling body said.

Justice has been done. The UCI will study the decision and for our part there is nothing to appeal

Contador's lawyer Andy Ramos

Contador's lawyer Andy Ramos said he did not believe there were any grounds to appeal.

"Justice has been done," he said. "The UCI will study the decision and for our part there is nothing to appeal. We hope the UCI don't appeal."

A "very small concentration" of clenbuterol, a muscle-building and fat-burning drug, was found in Contador's urine sample on 21 July 2010, by an accredited laboratory in Germany.

The amount was 40 times less than the 50 picograms which the anti-doping laboratories accredited by Wada must be able to detect.

Contador said he ate meat contaminated with the substance during one of the Tour's rest days.

Contador, the yellow jersey winner in Paris, first in 2007 and then in 2009, could have been be stripped of the 2010 Tour title. The only previous Tour winner to suffer that fate was American Floyd Landis in 2006.

The Spaniard won last year's Tour de France by 39 seconds from Luxembourg's Andy Schleck.

Contador will compete for his new Saxo Bank team in the Tour of Algarve, a five-stage race through southern Portugal.

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see also
Contador will appeal against ban
28 Jan 11 |  Cycling
Tour winner in positive dope test
30 Sep 10 |  Europe
Contador signs for Saxo Bank team
03 Aug 10 |  Cycling
Contador seals third Tour victory
25 Jul 10 |  Cycling

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