VINO'S TOUR ON A KNIFE EDGE
The Tour de France is poised to publish which teams, riders and individuals it does not want to see at the 2006 race.
The former Liberty Seguros team — led by Tour contender Alexandre Vinokourov and now sponsored by Kazakh conglomerate Astana — and Comunitat Valenciana are the two squads in the spotlight following massive anti-doping raids in Spain in May.
“What we saw on TV last month wasn’t sport,” said Tour boss Jean-Marie Leblanc, referring to scenes of policemen handling bags of blood from a Madrid clinic allegedly belonging to a drugs ring supplying athletes.
“It looked like a world run by cheats and thieves. So when we act, it will be with a firm hand,” Leblanc added.
“However, first we are waiting to see if we receive more information from the Spanish police.”
Leblanc was referring to the list of riders alleged to have been spotted entering the clinic, which Spanish police are set to release this week.
Of the five individuals held during the raids, former Liberty team manager Manolo Saiz has now resigned. However, it is still not clear whether this will be enough to save his former team from exclusion from the Tour.