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Worst fears confirmed for Costa de Almeria-Paternina, Fernandez set for Phonak post? New doping plan

Worst fears confirmed for Costa de Almeria-Paternina, Fernandez set for Phonak post? New doping plan
PICTURE BY TDWSPORT.COM Fears that 2004 may prove to be the final year for the Costa de Almeria-Paternina team have been confirmed. Team boss Miguel Moreno has revealed that political manoeuvring within the Almeria regional government has resulted in the budget that was due to be given to the team for 2005 being frozen. "We've exhausted all possibilities," Moreno, who has been a team manager since 1967, told AS. "The ProTour hasn't affected us. We had a guaranteed place for the Vuelta. What has scuppered the team has been political disputes within the Almeria government. Paternina wanted to continue, but we needed Almeria to put in the other half of the budget to do so." - Former Mapei, Festina and Coast directeur sportif Juan Fernandez is being heavily linked in Spain with the now vacant DS role at Phonak. Former incumbent Alvaro Pino was released from his contract on Monday. According to El Diario Vasco, new Phonak team manager John Lelangue is looking for a DS who speaks French and Spanish, and who has a well-established reputation. Fernandez fits the bill on all counts, and is also a good friend of Lelangue's father, Robert, who was the Spaniard's team manager at Kas in the 1970s. It may also help Fernandez's case that he was brought in by Festina after their scandal that devastated the 1998 Tour de France. - Spain's minister of sport, Jaime Lissavetzky, has announced the introduction of a national anti-doping plan that will be based on a philosophy of zero tolerance towards doping. The plan's principal targets initially will be football, cycling and athletics. Initiatives in the plan include an increase in the number of random dope tests, particularly those conducted out of competition, and the publication of a list of banned products, which will be the same as that regulated by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The plan is part of the government's backing for Madrid's bid to host the 2012 Olympics. Asked about the ongoing blood doping case involving Santiago Perez, Lissavetzky commented: "The Spanish Sports Council's laboratory cannot detect homotransfusions. This doping practice has not been used for some time and it wasn't not expected to resurface again. There are only three labs in the world that can detect this practice. But blood testing will be part of the new plan." Then asked about the doping allegations made by former Kelme rider Jesus Manzano, Lissavetzky responded: "That matter is being dealt with by the civil courts and we will have to see what they decide before sporting justice can be applied. We have put ourselves at the disposal of the judge to cooperate in any way we can. We will try to eradicate doping, but we must do so by respecting regulations." - The announcement earlier this week that no less than nine riders had tested positive for EPO in tests conducted in October's Tour of Guatemala has led to the outspoken intervention of that country's president, Oscar Berger. The top four finishers overall were disqualified after failing tests, including local star Lizandro Ajcu, who was the overall winner and was given the keys to a house by the president. President Berger described the news as "extremely perplexing and a very sad surprise at the end of the year." Three other Guatemalan riders and five foreign competitors fell foul of the controls. "I was happy to congratulate Lizandro, but I hope that the example of something so terrible happening serves as a warning to the coming generations," said Berger. Acju, who has not been seen since news of the positive tests was released, has been called to appear before the Guatemalan Cycling Federation on January 20. The president of the federation has blamed the national team's Colombian coach, Josue Lopez, for giving the riders a "miracle serum". Lopez has denied the accusation.
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