Tour shorts: Wrth, Puerto, Ballester

Wrth pull their sponsorship from Astana, rumours linking footballers and tennis players to Puerto i

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Team Astana's co-sponsors Wrth have announced they are terminating their link with the controversy-hit squad "with immediate effect". The German company's decision was taken in the wake of Astana's ejection from the Tour de France after five of their Tour riders were implicated in the Operacion Puerto inquiry. "When the first suspicions of doping arose over the Liberty Seguros-Wrth team, we announced that if the team was excluded from any race, we would consider the contract as terminated," said Wrth's release. Liberty, of course, pulled their backing from the team several weeks ago.

- Spain's Superior Council for Sport (CSD), which has been heavily involved in the Operacion Puerto inquiry, has released a statement "correcting" International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid's assertion at the weekend that athletes in other sports besides cycling are implicated in the Puerto investigation. The CSD's statement came in response to a request from football's ruling body, FIFA, for more details about the inquiry after rumours appeared in the French press suggesting the involvement of five Real Madrid players in the suspected blood doping ring currently under investigation.

The statement said it is "the information that has appeared is the French press is absolutely lamentable, as it is baseless speculation about a specified number of footballers and a tennis player". French paper Le Journal du Dimanche alleged Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal was involved in the investigation. Nadal said at Wimbledon on Monday that the reports were "lies" and that he has instructed his management team to investigate legal options on his behalf.

- Comunitat Valenciana rider Vicente Ballester has written an open letter to the Spanish press denying he has any link with those being investigated as part of the Operacion Puerto inquiry. Ballester is one of 23 CV riders implicated in the investigation, but says he during two years with the team he has had no link with controversial doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, nor has he taken anything prescribed by Fuentes.

Ballester points out that during 2004, his first year with what was then the Kelme team, he did not ride as a pro for administrative reasons and last year he did not compete after having an operation on a herniated disc in his back. Ballester says he is prepared to do whatever it takes to "clear my good name both as an individual and as a sportsman". He adds that his legal advisers are considering whether to take action against Fuentes or anyone else who might have placed his name on a document without his consent.

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