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UCI boss fears Spanish probe report will come too late for this year's tours

UCI boss fears Spanish probe report will come too late for this year's tours

The world cycling federation may be unable to prevent riders implicated in a doping scandal from competing in this year's races because there is not enough time to go through a 6,000-page report by Spanish investigators.
UCI president Pat McQuaid said the report into the Operation Puerto scandal is expected soon, but that it would likely take the rest of the year to sort out which riders should face disciplinary action.
"There is no way we have the eyes to go through these 6,000 pages and determine who is guilty and who is involved in some way or another," McQuaid told reporters in Copenhagen. "There is no way we can be finished before the end of this year. They are the practical issues which make it difficult for us with the best will in the world."
Organizers of the Tour de France and other major races have been pressing to find out which cyclists are implicated in the probe, and McQuaid has asked the Spanish government to help identify the riders involved.
The probe started last May when sports doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, coach Manolo Saiz and six other people were arrested in Madrid on suspicion of providing doping services to cyclists.
The investigation implicated more than 50 cyclists and led to pre-race favorites Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso and seven others riders being excluded from last year's Tour de France. The allegations also forced two teams to dissolve when their sponsors backed out.
A Spanish judge dropped the case in March but prosecutors appealed the decision two days later, calling for further investigation. McQuaid said the appeals ruling is expected "in the next couple of days," after which the UCI is hoping to access the probe's 6,000 pages.
The Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport reported Monday that the report implicates 49 other riders.
"We don't know of 49 names because we have never seen the files," McQuaid said. "We don't know what is in there. UCI doesn't know who they are and if there are 49 names at this moment in time. There is no way to know that until the (Spanish) judge makes his decision" in the appeals case.
While the chances are slim to process all the information before the Tour de France starts on July 7, McQuaid said it could be possible if "we put a team of lawyers on it."
"A day before is time enough (but) it would blessed if we had that information a couple of weeks before the tour," he said.
Asked whether Operation Puerto could hamper this year's Tour de France, McQuaid replied "yes."
"Legally, they can't stop them. UCI riders can race," he said. "Morally I agree completely with the Tour and morally it would be better if the riders in the Puerto (probe) would not be there."


Updated : 2021-05-18 14:16 GMT+08:00