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Liberty Seguros manager Pablo Anton has said that there is no danger of the team falling apart falling apart even in the event of Roberto Heras testing positive in a second B test for the blood-booster EPO. Anton told AS that he was not worried about the future of the team and confirmed that Heras, who is already suspended after a positive A test, would be sacked if his B test gives a similar result on November 21.
Anton also responded to the question of his team's previous incidents with Nuno Ribeiro and Isidro Nozal, who were both prevented from starting major events this season because of elevated red blood cell counts.
"They are different cases," said Anton. "Roberto has tested positive, while the other two only went over the permitted haematocrit level in a control, which is simply a health question. We couldn't sack them for a problem like this, we could only come to an agreement with them, as we did with Ribeiro [who left the team]. Nozal didn't want to leave and for that reason he stayed with us."
He also defended team doctor Sergio Quiles, saying "he has no responsibility [in the Heras matter]".
Meanwhile, Bilbao's El Correo newspaper has claimed that the International Cycling Union had been targeting Heras and a number of other riders during the Vuelta. According to El Correo, UCI suspicions were allegedly aroused by the comparison between Heras's poor performance at the Tour, where he finished 45th, and his resurgence at the Vuelta, and also following his rapid recovery from a heavy fall in which he received 15 stitches in his left knee on stage 12 of the Vuelta.
El Correo alleged that Aitor Gonzalez, who also tested positive at the Vuelta, was another of the targeted riders.
Heras's positive A test for EPO came after he had finished just half a second down to winner Ruben Plaza in the Vuelta's final time trial, which was the fastest ever completed in a major tour.
El Correo also quoted a source at the Madrid lab that carried out the test as saying "it is almost impossible that the counter-analysis will contradict the first result".
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