June 13, 2006
Comunidad Valenciana excluded from '06 Tour
No great surprise, but the other shoe fell today. Comunidad Valenciana, a Spanish team whose assistant director is one of the key people allegedly under investigation in Operación Puerto, was kicked off the 2006 Tour de France by organizers.
As a wildcard invitation, CV's participation was solely at the discretion of the Amaury Sport Organisation, the Tour's parent company, and ASO wants nothing to do with a team under investigation. José Ignacio Labarta's resignation June 1 didn't appease race organizers.
The harder case is Astaná-Würth, where the team is riding in the Tour by virtue of its ProTour license, and so can only be kicked out by the UCI. The team's former director and co-owner, Manolo Saiz, resigned June 9th. He is reportedly not an organizer of the doping ring under investigation, but is suspected of being a customer of the ring.
Of Saiz, the organizers say:
Concerning his team and because of this year’s system, except for invitations, the participation is decided by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) through the attribution of licences by a special commission. Therefore the Tour de France awaits an upcoming decision of this commission concerning the presence in its event of a team in which one of the main shareholders is blamed in a doping issue.
Finally if riders or members of the team staff are accused by the Spanish justice before the start or during the event, the ethics code decided by the sporting groups envisaging the withdrawal or retiry of people concerned, will be strongly applied.
Procycling reports the UCI decision on Astaná is expected tomorrow.
There are going to be a lot of riders having trouble sleeping for the next two weeks.
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