Disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis has placed doubt on reigning Tour de France champion Alberto Contador's claims that a positive test for clenbuterol was down to contaminated meat.
And the American, speaking on German television Sunday, claimed that world cycling chiefs have protected top riders from the scandal of positive doping tests for the past 20 years.
Contador, who has won the race's yellow jersey three times, is facing an uncertain future. He is currently suspended provisionally as anti-doping experts decide whether a positive test for trace amounts of the banned weight loss/muscle building drug at the 2010 race merits a lengthy ban.
Landis knows a thing or two about doping practices. He was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France crown after a positive test for testosterone, and despite denying doping for four years he finally confessed several months ago.
In making his confession, he alleged that former team-mate Lance Armstrong was involved in systematic doping during his spectacular Tour de France career.
Those claims have since prompted a federal investigation into the superstar American.
Landis said that despite even tighter controls being put in place by the sport's governing body the UCI (International Cycling Union), clenbuterol is still used in the peloton.
"I know of riders taking clenbuterol. The chances of getting caught are higher than they used to be, but they're still quite small because the drug usually disappears before the test," said Landis on ARD.
Contador claimed his result was down to contaminated meat which someone from his Astana team bought in Spain, and which he ate on the race's second rest day.
Landis meanwhile reiterated claims against Armstrong, alleging the seven-time Tour de France champion and cancer survivor doped during his career.
But he also claimed that world cycling chiefs, in particular UCI chief Pat McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen, "protected" the top riders in the peloton.
"In the peloton, everyone knows that Pat McQuaid, Hein Verbruggen and other UCI officials have protected some riders, and not others, for the past 20 years," added Landis. "It was manipulation, and their way of creating stars."
© AFP 2010