Others still in limbo
By Anthony Tan
After their 'assumed' involvement as the UCI phrased it, two out of the five former Liberty Seguros-Würth riders implicated in the Operación Puerto affair have been cleared to race by the sport's governing body.
In fact, Alberto Contador and Sergio Paulinho were officially cleared soon after the Tour de France finished, Astana press officer Jacinto Vidarte told Cyclingnews: "That's true. Paulinho and Contador can ride again," he said. "Actually, Paulinho did the Tour of Germany, and Contador did the Tour of Burgos in Spain. I don't know exactly, but it was almost one month ago, just after the finish of the Tour de France, more or less."
Around the same time Paulinho and Contador were cleared by the UCI, all five riders - the others being Allan Davis, Joseba Beloki and Isidro Nozal - received a certified letter from the Spanish judge presiding over the case, indicating they had no involvement with Operación Puerto. However, UCI president Pat McQuaid said this letter did not permit any of the quintet to resume racing.
"You have to be a little bit careful here," warned McQuaid, "because the letter which they have received, is a letter saying that are not involved in any legal investigation; that is separate from an anti-doping investigation.
"All he [the Spanish judge] told them is that he's not going to be pressing charges against them - but that doesn't mean the UCI won't be opening up a disciplinary file against any one of them," he said to Cyclingnews.
McQuaid added the UCI has told Astana (the team formerly known as Liberty Seguros-Würth) which riders are not under investigation - meaning Davis, Beloki and Nozal may still be involved. If that is the case, the UCI will then forward a dossier for that rider to the respective national cycling federation, and together with that country's anti-doping agency, a further disciplinary process will commence against them.
Explaining the case of Allan Davis, McQuaid said: "If there's going to be a case against him, we will provide the Australian [cycling] federation with a dossier, and if it's not already gone from our office, it will be going in the coming days. If there's a disciplinary process [against Davis], the Australian cycling federation along with the Australian anti-doping agency would open up the process again."
When Cyclingnews contacted Davis on Monday this week, he said the Australian Cycling Federation (ACF) had been in contact, but was yet to receive a letter or dossier from the UCI. "I've been wanting to talk to Pat McQuaid and ask why it's taking so long, because I know Paulinho and Contador have been taken off the list - I don't know how or why...
"At the moment, it hasn't really changed since my last statement," said Davis, who asked Cyclingnews to publish a statement protesting his innocence on July 27, where he invited the "UCI, ACF, Spanish Judicial system or whoever needs to, to carry out a DNA test to finally clear my name from all of this".
"I haven't been asked to do any tests or anything... it's frustrating, I'll tell you right now," he said on Monday from his European home in Spain.
"I've got lawyers into it; I've got one in Australia taking care of things, and I think I'm just about to get one here in Spain, too. Just a matter of time, really... I just really want to say it's all over with next time I talk - I don't really want to talk about a drug investigation I've got nothing to do with; it just looks even worse."
Responded McQuaid: "Bear in mind that this is an ongoing investigation - it's something that finished the day we were given those names.
"What you cannot underestimate is the amount of work we've had to do to extract the 58 names from the 500 page dossier that we've got, and to create 58 files on each rider in relation to whether there is a possible anti-doping offence or not. Out of the 58 riders, not all of them will be going forward to be disciplined; I don't know exactly what the number is, but it's an ongoing process, and we're still heavily involved in it," he said.
Astana's PR officer Jacinto Vidarte also told Cyclingnews a number of Spanish riders cleared by the UCI are still unable to race. "Here in Spain, the UCI has given authorisation [to race] for some Spanish riders, but the Spanish federation said no - that they can't ride for the moment," Vidarte said.
However, the UCI president did confirm the dossier of Ivan Basso had been sent to the Italian cycling federation. On Monday, the Swiss cycling federation announced receipt of the dossier of Jan Ullrich, indicating both riders are due to face disciplinary action in the near future.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
April 2, 2009 - Valverde indignant over possible suspension
April 1, 2009 - Valverde: Italy requests two-year suspension
March 13, 2009 - Le Monde newspaper hit with fine over Puerto allegations
March 2, 2009 - WADA president Fahey asks for Puerto evidence
February 24, 2009 - Spanish federation seeks access to Puerto blood bags
February 20, 2009 - CONI considers Valverde case while UCI awaits verdict
February 19, 2009 - Valverde under criminal investigation
February 11, 2009 - Valverde summonsed for Operación Puerto in Italy
February 8, 2009 - Eight charged in Operación Puerto