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Mechanics and riders fine-tune Tour de France gear
Alberto Contador made an emotional plea of innocence during his press conference
Explains "string of coincidences that resulted in this mess"
The cook who prepared the steak that Alberto Contador believes contained the Clenbuterol that caused his positive test at the Tour de France has said that he has no doubt about the Spaniard's innocence of any doping offence. Paco Olalla, who runs the El Palacete restaurant in Peñaranda de Duero, near Burgos in north-east Spain, has also revealed that Contador's Astana team still hold the receipt of purchase for the much-discussed steak.
Olalla describes the purchase of the steak as happening "by chance. Astana had warned me that the hotels wouldn't let us use their kitchens, but the notorious day of the steak was in fact the only day during the race when this happened," Olalla told El Diario de Burgos.
Recalling the Tour's second rest day in Pau, Olalla added: "It was my responsibility to prepare the meals, and that day the hotel where we were staying refused to let us into their kitchens. It so happened that I had also had a conversation with [Vuelta a Castilla y León organiser] José Luis López Cerrón, who is a very good friend of mine and was coming to the race from Spain.
"He asked me if I needed anything and I asked him if he could bring some steak, because the meat in France is not the same. And that's what happened, it was just a string of coincidences that resulted in this mess."
Olalla explained that he is confident the issue can be resolved because Astana still have proof of purchase of the meat. "They always keep a check on everything that's bought. They asked me for a receipt for everything and I handed it over. Now everyone is looking for that receipt. Astana have it somewhere and it will turn up if they want it to," said Olalla.
Olalla, who has worked as a cook for a number of Spanish teams since the 1980s, has no doubt that Contador is innocent of doping. Describing the Tour winner as "a really friendly person", Olalla added: "I feel more relaxed about the affair now because the president of the UCI has said there is no case to answer. There is only one path to the truth and Alberto Contador has done nothing irregular, of that I am very sure."