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Hermida returns home amid Operación Puerto accusations

By:
Antonio J. Salmerón
Published:
August 23, 2006, 1:00 BST,
Updated:
April 20, 2009, 23:25 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News for August 23, 2006

Spanish mountain biker José Antonio Hermida has revealed that he left the world mountain bike...

Spanish mountain biker José Antonio Hermida has revealed that he left the world mountain bike championships because a nickname on the Operación Puerto list has been alleged to refer to him.

In a statement issued through his Multivan Merida team, Hermida said, "On August 18th the RFEC [Spanish cycling federation] sent me a fax requesting me to leave the National Team in New Zealand, following direct instructions given by the UCI. The main reason given by the RFEC, on behalf of the UCI, was none other but the supposed appearance of a nickname on a paper belonging to someone involved in the so-called Operación Puerto, a name which has been falsely and artificially attributed to me, without any consideration or certainty."

The general secretary of the RFEC, Eugenio Bermúdez, subsequently confirmed the claim, telling Spanish sports paper Marca that recalling Hermida was, "permitted by the regulations".

Nevertheless, Hermida has reacted angrily to being pulled from the Spanish MTB world's team. "There is no data available which could place in doubt my professionalism, and even less force me to abandon an international competition," said Hermida. He said that the justification for withdrawing him from the event is "absurd and beyond any sports regulation," and added, "it has led to the initiation of the appropriate penal and civil proceedings ... against both the Secretary General of the RFEC, Mr Bermudez, and the RFEC itself."

Hermida's team has distanced itself from the affair, saying in a statement, "At the moment, José Hermida is neither suspended by the UCI nor is he subject to any other sanctions. The Multivan Merida Biking Team will follow this case very critically and has already asked for a complete look in the files in order to get an objective understanding of the situation at hand. As one of mountain biking's leading race teams, the team follows a zero-tolerance strategy in case of a doping offence."

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