AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
Published — Sunday 3 February 2013
Last update 2 February 2013 10:25 pm
THE HAGUE: Blanco — formerly the Rabobank team — said Saturday 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 the 29-year-old 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.
Last 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 in the so-called “Operation Puerto” case could avert a huge fall-out from the high-profile trial, with suspects across the drug-tarnished world of cycling and perhaps in other sports potentially at risk.
The Canary Islands doctor, 57, was detained when police seized 200 bags of blood and plasma, and other evidence of performance-enhancing transfusions, revealing a huge doping network after a months-long investigation dubbed “Operation Puerto.”
Fuentes on Tuesday said his activities had stretched beyond cycling, which is still reeling from the aftermath of revelations that Lance Armstrong cheated his way to a record seven Tour de France wins.
“I worked with individual sportspeople, privately. It could be a cyclist in a cycling team, a footballer in a football team, an athlete, a boxer,” he told the court.