Klöden on Astana’s Tour shortlist

Team brushes off doping alegations

Germany's Andreas Klöden has been included on the shortlist of Astana riders for the Tour de France participation. Klöden has been accused of practising blood doping in 2006 according to an independent commission report, but he has denied the charges and his team continues to support him.

"We have studied the commission report," Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens told German news agency dpa. "It does not include any proof against Klöden. Only on one of 64 pages include statements from Patrik Sinkewitz against Klöden. But he has assured us that he has nothing to do with it. For us, as well as for the Tour organisers, there are no arguments against him participating in the Tour."

The report alleges that Klöden used blood doping on the evening after the 2006 Tour prologue in Strasbourg, which is not far from Freiburg where former team doctors Lothar Heinrich and Andreas Schmidt performed organised doping on T-Mobile riders. "In his study at the clinic on July 2, 2006, professor Schmidt re-injected three riders - Sinkewitz, Kessler and Klöden - with their own blood," the report said.

The Tour de France podium finisher could face disciplinary procedures in his country of residence, Switzerland, but the Swiss anti-doping agency has not finished studying the evidence against him - and therefore Swiss Cycling may not take action before the Tour de France. "I cannot tell you when [the agency will have finished examining the case], said a Swiss Cycling spokesperson on Thursday.

Klöden, who is currently racing the Tour of Luxembourg, is also scheduled to participate in the Tour of Switzerland before the Tour de France.

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