The Dutch squad Vacansoleil-DCM will head to the Giro d'Italia this weekend with its main climbing specialist and overall contender, Jose Rujano, left behind.
The Venezuelan was reportedly named as part of a large investigation in Italy called "Operazione Amateur" into trafficking of doping products, but he denied any involvement, stating that he was not even residing in Europe during the years covered by the case.
Team manager Daan Luijkx made the decision today to leave Rujano off the Giro roster to be safe. "We did our own investigation and confronted the rider last Monday with some facts in Amsterdam. Again we concluded that no harmful facts such as suspicious blood values that can be raised against the rider.
"Furthermore, the products linked to Rujano are not on the anti-doping prohibited list. Based on the rules, the rider from Venezuela is allowed to start but we don't want to take any risk. In the meanwhile we kept close contact with the Italian authorities. We don't want to bring into discredit the organisers, the rider, the team nor the sport by taking a rider which is in the middle of an investigation."
Luijkx also asked for a speedy end to the investigation. "We have confidence in Rujano and expect the Italian justice to confirm quickly that there won't be any measures taken towards Rujano following the investigation. In the meanwhile we agreed with the rider to focus on races in June and July."
Vacansoleil is in the last year of its sponsorship contract and is expected to decide whether to continue to support the team in the near future.