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10.08.2006/ On May 23 Manolo Saiz, manager of Liberty Seguros, Josť Ignacio Labarta, asistent sports director of Comunidad Valenciana, Eufemiano Fuentes, former doctor of Kelme, Josť Luis Merino, doctor of an analytical laboratory in Madrid and Alberto Leon, former mountainbike pro where arrested by the Guardia Civil. After these arrests a lot has happened, riders where suspended or even sacked by their teams but what facts do we actually know?

Liberty Seguros terminate contract

Soon after the arrests on May 23, the Spanish Radio Cardena SER reported that Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso were on a list with codenames which was found during the police raid on May 23. Ullrich and Basso denied their involvement immediatly. According to Spanish media there where 200 athletes on these lists, among them football players (soccer), tennis players, track and field athletes and 58 cyclists. Liberty Seguros terminated their contract with Activebay, the company of Manolo Saiz who owned the cycling team.

The list

On Friday June 30 the UCI issued an official statement, saying that it „assumes that the following riders, registered to participate in the 2006 Tour de France, are involved in the affair: Sergio Paulihno, Isidro Nozal, Allan Davis, Alberto Contador, Joseba Beloki, Francisco Mancebo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla.“ The UCI statement continues with:“The involvement does not mean that an anti-doping violation has been established. However, the indications of the mentioned report are serious enough.“ Bjarne Riis stated:"Of course we want to make it very clear, that we have not been presented with any evidence whatsoever of Ivan being involved in doping.“

As a result the ASO and the teams taking part in the Tour de France agreed up on taking the riders involved out of the tour.

The follow-up team of Liberty Seguros, Astana, was also send home because the team had only four riders left and the rules say that a team has to have at least six riders. Because of that Alexander Vinokourov couldn't start as well. While the international press already presented the named riders as guilty of dopimg on their front pages, the world of cycling was in a state of shock. There are many questions.

The Valenciana team which was also not allowed to start at the Tour de France sent blood samples to the Guardia Civil and issued a statement on July 6 saying that: „legal actions will be directed against the people in charge of the investigation and those who have provided information to the media and against mass media that have accused anyone of doping in the Communidad Valenciana team without having the documentary evidence necessary to prove culpability." A few days after the Tour de France ended all Valenciana riders where cleared by the Guardia Civil. The Valenciana

riders recieved a document in which the Guardia Civil stated that none of the riders where linked to the Puerto case. Soon after that five of the accused Astana riders where cleared by the Guardia Civil as well (Allan Davis, Joseba Beloki, Isidro Nozal, Sergio Paulinho and Alberto Contador). This means that Astana and Valenciana should have been allowed to start at the Tour de France since a lot of the named riders where cleared by the Spanish authorities. No outcry, no big deal for the international media, most of the mass media didn't even publish that lots of riders are cleared.

Giampaolo Caruso, a rider of the Astana team was cleared as well, but the Italian website tuttobiciweb reported that the UCI still opposes Caruso to return to competition. On July 26 the UCI anounced that they will send the dossiers of the involved riders to their national federations but on August 9 several national federations complained that they still didn't receive the dossiers from the UCI. Only the Italian cycling federation confirmed that they received a dossier concerning the involvment of Ivan Basso and that there will be a hearing on August 29.

This is a developing story which isn't finished yet. We will publish more about Puerto in the coming week.

Link: New Cyclingheroes Website

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