Tour de France organisers said they were in possession of no new information concerning riders who have been implicated in the Operation Puerto doping affair in Spain.
The scandal erupted prior to last year’s Tour de France, leading to the exclusion of 13 riders including Italian star Ivan Basso and former race winner Jan Ullrich of Germany. In recent days the world’s media has focused their spotlight on current race leader Alberto Contador, who was initially linked to the affair before being cleared by any involvement by a Spanish judge.
Patrice Clerc, the president of the Tour de France’s parent company ASO (Amaury Sports Organisation), told reporters: “I’ve got no new information, the only thing I can say to you is to ask the Spanish minister for Sports Jaime Lissavetsky when he comes to the Champs Elysees on Sunday.”
Clerc had been questioned about the content of an article to appear in French newspaper Le Monde.
It claimed that Contador’s name appeared in documents which linked him to Spanish sports doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, the alleged brains behind an intricate blood doping network.
Le Monde said it had gained access to crucial evidence in the investigation, but said nonetheless that Contador’s name “had not been asterisked”. That suggested the Spaniard had not been administered any doping products.
Contador was questioned about his links to the affair two days ago.
“If I wasn’t clean, then I wouldn’t be here. I’ve undergone all the required doping tests, both at the race and before it,” said Contador, who on Sunday could become the first Spaniard since Miguel Indurain to win the Tour.
“Operation Puerto was something which concerned my former team, and I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Former Tour of Italy winner Basso was sacked by Discovery Channel two months ago, and has since been handed a two-year ban after admitting being linked to Fuentes.
© AFP 2007