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Riis under pressure after further Hamilton revelations

By:
Cycling News
Published:
November 05, 2012, 15:38 GMT,
Updated:
November 05, 2012, 15:41 GMT
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, November 6, 2012
Bjarne Riis has attracted a new sponsor to his squad.

Bjarne Riis has attracted a new sponsor to his squad.

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Former Team CSC rider insists Riis knew Dr Fuentes

Bjarne Riis is under huge pressure about his links with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes and the use of blood doping at his team after further damning revelations by Tyler Hamilton.

Riis confessed to doping during his own career but has always denied knowing Dr. Fuentes while in charge of Team CSC and Saxo Bank. Hamilton claimed Riis introduced him to Fuentes is his autobiography "The Secret Race" and reiterated those claims on Sunday night in a television interview in Denmark to launch the Danish version of the book.

"Riis knew all about what I was doing with Fuentes. He wanted to know everything. And it was he who introduced me to Eufemiano Fuentes and gave me the contact information for him," Hamilton told DR.

In August, Riis flatly denied Hamilton's claims to the Ritzau news agency, saying, "I can absolutely deny that this is the case. It is simply not true. I do not know Fuentes. I have never met him.”

After showing the scare tissue covering the veins of his left forearm on television -saying they remind him that he was a liar, Hamilton insisted Riis and Fuentes had met in 2002 and claimed that the enigmatic Danish team manager –who will again work with Alberto Contador in 2013, knew all about Hamilton's doping strategy.

"They have met," Hamilton said.

"I remember an episode from 2002 - I think it was in April - when Fuentes, Bjarne and I were in the same hotel room in Spain. I can still remember how the hotel looked. Bjarne wanted to meet him, but afterwards Fuentes a bit angry that Bjarne had come with me. I think Fuentes wanted to keep it as private as possible."

"Every time we saw each other for races or training camps, we talked about it [doping]. But never in front of others. We kept it to ourselves. We also tried not to talk about it on the phone, it was hard at times, when the police began to become interested."

Hamilton accused Riis but also praised him, insisting he should now speak out to help the sport come clean.

"If I met Bjarne today, I'd tell him I'm sorry. But that's what I had to do. Cycling deserves the truth, the fans deserve the truth," Hamilton said.

"Bjarne Riis is a good guy, and he did a lot of good things for me. It was the best year in my career, when I rode for him in 2002 and 2003. I like Bjarne's character and the way he was thinking out of the box."

Under pressure

Riis has yet to respond to the latest revelations by Hamilton. He has been criticised for his own doping and limited confession but also praised by riders and staff for the way he has managed the Saxo Bank team in recent years. However Brad McGee has recently quit as a key directeur sportif and long- standing team doctor Joost de Maeseneer has announced he is leaving Riis to work at Astana in 2013.

Both Saxo Bank and Tinkoff Bank have continued to support Riis but the Dane risks a detailed investigation in Denmark following Hamilton's accusations.

Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank has yet to obtain a WorldTour licence for 2013. Last week the UCI listed Team Saxo – Tinkoff Bank in 20th place in the sporting criteria for WorldTour places.

To secure a place in the highest echelon of the sport, the team will have to pass sporting, ethical, financial and administrative criteria and convince the UCI it deserves a WorldTour place ahead of Team Argos – Shimano, Lotto Belisol and FDJ.

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