Tour organisers confirm Astana withdrawal request

Organisers of the Tour de France have confirmed that they have requested the Astana-Würth team...

Organisers of the Tour de France have confirmed that they have requested the Astana-Würth team withdraw from the race, which starts Saturday July in Strasbourg.

"We have sent a letter to Astana-Würth asking them not to take part in the Tour de France," ASO spokesman Philippe Sudres told the Reuters news agency on Monday.

"Should the team refuse to withdraw we will refer the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), who can expel them from the competition," Sudres said.

The case looks certain to go to the CAS as Pablo Antón, co-manager of Active Bay, the company that owns the team, has already said he intends to appeal ASO's request to the CAS.

ASO almost certainly needs the cooperation of the UCI or CAS to enforce a ban on Astana-Würth, as the team has an automatic entry. ASO was able to withdraw its invitation to the Communidad Valenciana team last week because that entry was a discretionary wildcard.

Formerly known as Liberty Seguros, the Astana-Würth team has been under a cloud since its manager, Manolo Saiz was arrested last month on suspicion of involvement in a doping ring. Communidad Valencia assistant directeur sportif Ignacio Labarta was also arrested in the 'Operation Puerto' raids, as was former Kelme team doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

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

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