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Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the centre of Spain's Operacion Puerto blood doping investigation, has said there is no link between that inquiry and the Comunitat Valenciana team, whose invite to the Tour de France was withdrawn earlier this week.
Speaking to Valencian newspaper Levante after hearing about the Spanish team's Tour exclusion, Fuentes said: "This is not an attempt nor a manoeuvre to save Comunitat Valenciana. I've got no link with them and it seems absurd that these steps have been taken. What I'm telling you now will become clear in a few months when the ongoing investigation is concluded, but I just wanted you to know this in case someone is listening."
Fuentes stated his relationship with Kelme (now Comunitat Valenciana) finished in 2002. "I was obliged to work with them at the end of 2003, but I've not had any relationship with them since then either on an individual level or a collective one. There is nothing to link the team to the Operacion Puerto investigation. The only explanation I can find [for their exclusion] is my friendship with one of the team's staff, Ignacio Labarta."
Meanwhile, Comunitat Valenciana are being heavily linked with a move for former Spanish national coach Paco Antequera, who was previously linked with team manager Vicente Belda's job during the Jesus Manzano affair in 2004. Antequera is currently working with the team promoting cycling within the Valencian region.
Belda has indicated in recent days that he is thinking about stepping down, but Antequera told AS he knows nothing about this. "No one has spoken to me, nor have I been made any offers," Antequera said. "I can only say that I am at Comunitat Valenciana's disposal in any way they want me to be, they are paying me for this."
Antequera said he felt the Tour's decision to reject the Spanish team from their race is "unjust", adding that he felt the Tour should have waited until there is definite proof of one or more of their riders or team staff being involved in the blood doping investigation.
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