News flash for October 28, 2006
Edited by Laura Weislo
Spanish federation drops Operación Puerto cases
The Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) has released a decision based on recent judicial rulings in the Operación Puerto affair. The RFEC has closed all disciplinary files opened against the cyclists implicated in the investigation. The announcement comes weeks after the judge in charge of the case ruled on October 8th that the investigation documents could not be used by national federations to take action against riders.
The news will be a huge setback to the UCI and its efforts to combat alleged doping in the peloton. It comes less than one day after the against the Italian cycling federation (FCI) permanently shelved the case against Giro d'Italia winner Ivan Basso, who was also implicated in Operación Puerto documents.
The Spanish federation has emphasized that the riders who were part of the investigation had never had their licenses suspended, and now that the disciplinary investigations are closed, they are free to compete with their respective squads. They have not excluded the possibility that the files would be reopened once the judicial proceedings are concluded.
However, the RFEC has decided to initiate disciplinary investigations on the former Liberty Würth director, Manuel Sáiz, Comunidad Valenciana's Ignacio Labarta and Vicente Belda and the doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. This action could set off a whole new round of legal wranglings regarding this action, as well as the status of ProTour license of Sáiz's former team, Astana.
Sáiz still holds the rights to the Active Bay Sports/Astana ProTour license, and does not plan to transfer the license to the new organisation. Following an appeal from Astana, the UCI licensing commission refused to withdraw the Active Bay license. The UCI said today that they "regret the circumstances which have obliged the commission to take this decision, which is undoubtedly correct in legal terms, but which is most likely due to the lack of information from the Spanish authorities and the extremely confusing state of affairs with Operación Puerto".
This year's Tour de France was seriously affected by Operación Puerto, with riders such as Basso and Germany's TdF winner, Jan Ullrich, withdrawn from the Tour.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
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