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Manolo Saiz, co-owner of the Astana team, appeared for two hours before the judge overseeing the Operacion Puerto case in Madrid on Thursday. Saiz is suspected of breaking the Spanish law on public health as a result of his alleged involvement in a suspected blood doping ring. Saiz admitted that he had cooperated on the planning of riders' training programmes with Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the centre of the investigation, but denied any wrongdoing.
Saiz also denied the 60,000 euros he was carrying in a variety of currencies when he was arrested by Spanish police was to pay off a debt to Fuentes. Saiz argued that the money was to be used to pay his Astana team's expenses on upcoming trips abroad. Saiz also claimed that he had been given permission by authorities in France and Spain to carry the corticoid Synacthen that he had in his possession despite it being on banned lists. Fuentes is set to be questioned by the judge on July 20 and former Comunitat Valenciana directeur sportif Ignacio Labarta on July 21.
- With Saturday's time trial finally on the agenda, the Tour enters a new phase and one that most sprinters aren't too crazy about, as Erik Zabel writes in his column in Die Welt. "52 kilometres is bloody long, not least for a sprinter like me. If the best rides with an average speed of 51 kph, I'll have to ride at 46 to 47 kph to make the time limit." The German sprinter has also given the mountains some thought, though reluctantly. "The riders for the overall are already looking forward to the first Pyrenean stage on Wednesday. I, on the contrary, try to erase the word 'mountains' from my mind so far. Regarding that I can draw a parallel to our national team's [World Cup] semi-final loss: both hurt."
- Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel has confirmed the rumoured signing of Astana's Sergio Paulinho, who was implicated in the Operacion Puerto affair last week. "Paulinho has got nothing to do with Operacion Puerto," said Bruyneel. "His inclusion in the dossier was due to an error and there is now no problem for us in signing him. In cases of this kind we don't take any risks."
- Australia's Oenone Wood has won Friday's eighth stage of the Giro Donne. The Nrnberger Versicherung rider beat Susanne Ljungskog (Buitenpoort-Flexpoint) and Sigrid Corneo (Nobili Rubinetterie) in the sprint at the end of the 90km stage. Thanks to the bonuses gained for finishing second, Sweden's Ljungskog reduced overall leader Nicole Brndli's advantage to just four seconds.
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