By Gregor Brown in Toulouse
Liquigas Manager Roberto Amadio denied any connection to Spaniard Manuel Beltrán the morning after his rider was expelled from the 95th Tour de France for testing his "A" sample positive for Erythropoietin.
"He knows how we work, and if there are any questions, we are there to answer them. We can prove that the team had noting to do with this case," Amadio said to press gathered at the team's bus on the morning of stage eight.
Amadio's rider had gone home to Spain earlier in the morning after an evening spent with the French Gendarmerie. Beltrán was forced to answer questions regarding the use of the drug Erythropoietin (EPO). The drug is believed to be less popular in the peloton now that detection methods are more advanced.
"If a rider does this he is crazy," Amadio said of EPO usage.
'Triki' Beltrán currently suspended from Team Liquigas will face fines if his "B" sample confirms the "A" sample. The team has a financial penalty clause in the rider's contract that will be enforced if the test taken by the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) result is verified.
"If you do something like that, the rider knows that he does not have a chance. ... There are still some guys who play Russian roulette."
Beltrán was informed of the news when a French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLP) representative delivered the test results to the Liquigas hotel on Friday evening. What followed was a show of force by the French police.
"The Gendarmerie has to do its job according to French law. It is their right to does so." The Gendarmerie led Beltrán out of the hotel to its station for questioning.
The Liquigas team is continuing in the 95th Tour de France, despite a tarnished image following Beltrán's positive. The Italian team will not withdraw its other racers - unlike Team Cofidis, which left the Tour de France in 2007 following the positive test of Cristian Moreni.
"We are going to try to win stages, like always," said Amadio. "We are here to ride the Tour and ride at our best. These are the things that can happen, we have to continue."