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Operación Puerto News for July 3, 2006

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Ullrich, Basso risk four years - life-long ban for Hamilton?

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UCI president Pat McQuaid, who was at the Tour de France start in Strasbourg this weekend, said that the procedures to sanction the riders linked to incriminated Dr Fuentes were going to start soon. "The Spanish judicial authorities don't have to investigate further concerning these riders," he said. "As of now, the investigation will go ahead concerning Fuentes, Manolo Saiz and the other persons who were taken into custody at the beginning of the affair. We have received the first dossier of about 50 pages from the Spanish court, and a sanction will be following soon. We are only waiting for the whole dossier, maybe another 300 pages - then the cycling federation can start the procedure."

McQuaid added that the translation of the Spanish documents would take another two weeks for the UCI to perform, but that once this was done, the German, Italian, Portuguese and Australian federations, and "all the other federations concerned" would be notified. "The fate of Ullrich, Basso and co. will be in the hands of their federations," he continued. "The punishment according to the Ethical Charter can be up to four years for ProTour riders and two years for the others. If the sanctions of the national federations do not satisfy us at the UCI, we will appeal them at the CAS."

However, McQuaid did not evoke retroactive sanctions, meaning that Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich will keep their Giro d'Italia and Tour de Suisse victories.

Tyler Hamilton, however could face a life-long ban, as the Spanish Anti-Doping brigade has sent a 300-page thick report to the UCI yesterday. "If he is guilty, it would be Tyler Hamilton's second doping offence," the UCI president added, as the Fuentes files dealing with Hamilton referred to alleged doping practices in 2002-2003. "That could mean a life-long ban."

Vino to take over Astana

Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana-Wurth)
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

Alexandre Vinokourov, who some describe as 'collateral damage' of the Operación Puerto affair at the Tour de France, is not giving up. Speaking to L'Equipe, the 32 year-old said that he had plans to "take over the team [of Manolo Saiz] completely on the long run. This is going to be our team," Vinokourov said, meaning that he wanted to make it a Kazakh outfit altogether.

The sponsors of his home country want to buy the team of its current Spanish managers. "Two years from now, I will probably be directeur sportif of the team," said 'Vino'. "We made a mistake in the beginning of June, when Astana became the new sponsor for Liberty Seguros. We should have bought the company shares from Saiz then - that would have been the only thing to save the team at the start in Strasbourg. But I couldn't think straight at the time; I had to prepare myself for the Tour!"

On Saiz, Vinokourov said, "I don't want to judge before having all the information, but I understand better now that there was a kind of war between him and the Tour organisers. He has to retire from the sport now; he has to disappear, we shouldn't see him anymore altogether. Maybe he can find happiness working in a small cycling shop."

The Kazakhstani hasn't given up in his own future though - he wants to have another go at the Tour de France next year. "It was perhaps my last chance to win the Tour, and they stole it from me," added Vinokourov. "It was hard; we hoped for a salvation gesture from the Tour until the very last minute. Now I'm very tired." He will take a two-weeks break, before preparing to for the World Championships in Salzburg. "But I still think that I might have a chance on a Tour win next year. I'll be back, that's for sure."

Contador: "I practiced clean cycling"

By Antonio J. Salmerón

Alberto Contador (Liberty Seguros-Würth)
Photo ©: Anthony Tan
(Click for larger image)

In an open letter to cycling fans, Alberto Contador has refuted the recent allegations linking him to Spanish Dr Fuentes. The young talent insisted on remembering that two years ago, when he was participating in the Vuelta a Asturias, "you helped me to overcome a very hard experience, which put my personal and professional life in danger, and more recently, I shared with you my triumphs obtained in 2005."

Contador wrote that he was thankful for the attention that the cycling fans showed him, "and for all that, and because you encouraged me with your shouts, or with my name printed on the roads, I feel in the obligation of showing you how I feel. At the moment, I'm sad, disappointed, powerless." But Contador added that, "Life has shown me that experiences, that at first sight seem harmful and unpleasant to us, can always result in highly positive lessons for us.

"I am convinced that my future professional and personal life will be marked by what happened these days, but I will continue working, possibly with even more devotion - if that's possible - to make you experience this beautiful sport and to hear you say once again that you believe in it and in me. So, to all those youngsters who begin in cycling, I want you to share something with me: YOU MAKE OF CYCLING A SPORT ADMIRED BY ALL. And because I believe in a clean sport, AS I HAVE PRACTICED IT, we will collect the result of our efforts in a few years."

Comunidad Valenciana lost sponsorship

By Antonio J. Salmerón

According to the Sunday edition of the Spanish newspaper Levante, "the council of the Valencian government will draw back the sponsorship of the Comunidad Valenciana professional cycling team as a consequence of its implication in the anti-doping affair." The political decision may have been taken last Friday by the Culture and Sport counselor, Alejandro Font de Mora, and the Sport secretary of this region, David Serra, "after the scandalous consequences of Operación Puerto."

Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'

May 18, 2009 - Valverde to start Catalunya
May 15, 2009 - Valverde not welcome in Denmark
May 14, 2009 - Spanish federation wants proof in Valverde case
May 13, 2009 - Spanish Olympic Committee defends Valverde
May 12, 2009 - Valverde responds to sanction
May 11, 2009 - Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension
May 8, 2009 - Valverde case: Italian Olympic Committee defends Torri
May 7, 2009 - Valverde to take legal action against CONI prosecutor
May 5, 2009 - WADA and Spanish federation join CONI and UCI on Valverde
May 1, 2009 - International Cycling Union joins in on Valverde's hearing in Italy

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

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