Stoke City striker Saido Berahino says the eight-week drugs ban he served earlier this season came after his drink was spiked in a nightclub.
Berahino did not play for former club West Brom between September and January, when he joined Stoke for £12m.
“To be banned for something you really haven’t done is hard to take,” the 23-year-old told BBC’s Football Focus.
He claims the level of drugs found was “really low”, which he says proves there was no intent on his behalf.
“You go on a night out, you don’t know who you are around and there are people who are out to get you,” said the former England Under-21 international.
“Of course, I was in a nightclub, so I hold my hand up for being irresponsible.
“From then on it all crashed down. To this day, I still cannot understand who would want to do that to me.”
‘No-one at West Brom protected me’
Berahino, who has played in the Premier League six times for Stoke, was absent from the first team for his final four months at West Brom.
Baggies boss Tony Pulis said repeatedly the Burundi-born striker was not playing because of a lack of fitness.
Berahino rejects suggestions Pulis tried to protect him.
“No-one protected me at that club,” he said.
“It was hard not doing what I really love – that’s what killed me the most.
“Waking up in the morning, playing football and having a smile on your face. Not doing that was the hardest thing for me.”
‘I hated the place that made me’
Berahino brought an end to his turbulent time at The Hawthorns by signing a five-and-a-half-year deal at Stoke on 20 January.
The Albion academy graduate, who scored 20 goals in 45 appearances for the club in 2014-15, threatened to go on strike after Spurs had a bid for him turned down on transfer deadline day in summer 2015.
He returned to the side 10 days after tweeting his frustration, but failed to regain his previous form.
He continued to be linked with other Premier League clubs, but moves in the next two transfer windows failed to materialise.
Berahino, who turned down three new contract offers from Albion, said he wanted to leave the club he joined as a 11-year-old because he “hated the place”.
“I was depressed,” he said. “Every morning I walked in the training ground I didn’t want to be there.
“Going from loving something and hating the place that has made you is hard to take. Hate is a strong word but I really didn’t want to be there.
“That is one of the reasons I didn’t sign the contracts they put on the table. It was not about money, it was about my happiness.”