Sun, Feb 03, 2013 - Page 20 News List

Blanco suspend Sanchez over doping allegations

AFP, THE HAGUE, Netherlands

Blanco — formerly the Rabobank team — said yesterday they have suspended Spanish rider Luis Leon Sanchez provisionally amid accusations he was linked to Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes in the Operation Puerto blood doping racket.

The Dutch team said it is investigating and would in the meantime not select Sanchez.

“The object of this investigation is to verify or refute revelations which appeared in the Dutch press on the subject of the role of our rider in the Fuentes affair,” Blanco said in a statement.

Spanish police believe Sanchez was a client of the doctor in 2006 while riding for the Liberty Seguros team — something he denies.

Sanchez has won several major titles, including the San Sebastian Classic in 2010 and 2012, the 2009 Paris-Nice, the Tour Down Under in 2005 and four stages of the Tour de France.

On Wednesday, a Spanish judge refused to demand that Fuentes, the suspected mastermind of one of the sporting world’s biggest blood doping rackets, provide the names of athletes implicated in the scandal.

The ruling could avert a huge fall-out from the high-profile trial, with suspects across the world of cycling and perhaps in other sports potentially at risk.

The doctor was detained when police seized blood, plasma and other evidence of performance-enhancing transfusions, revealing a huge doping network after a months-long investigation.

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