June 25, 2006
Spanish riders nix national championship after doping story
Juan Manuel Garate will wear the Spanish national champion's jersey for another year, but he barely had to turn a pedal in anger.
The riders banded together and decided not to race, in reaction to the ongoing furor over Operación Puerto. Today, El Pais published a story (en Español) saying 58 riders are implicated in the investigation.
The new story provides more detail on the investigation, but still doesn't name any riders. It does claim that 15 of the riders were part of Liberty Seguros (now Astaná-Würth), and that others rode in last month's Giro d'Italia. El Pais quotes unreleased court documents that riders paid up to 40,000 euros a year for treatment.
Because doping in sport isn't a crime in Spain, prosecutors are apparently working toward charging those involved with “crimes against public health,” which might depend on how the doctors conserved the blood. Riders involved could, of course, also face sanctions from the Spanish cycling federation or the UCI.
The story also clarifies that Manolo Saiz was not carrying blood when he was arrested, but Synacthen.
The Spanish pros decided unanimously to skip the race, coming to a halt after less than 1 kilometer. CyclingNews quotes an unidentified cyclist that “we are not prepared to undergo this orchestrated harassment.”
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