By Susan Westemeyer
Operación Puerto claimed another victim this week, as Team Volksbank has broken off negotiations with Jörg Jaksche, the Austrian Professional Continental team announced Thursday. The main problem was "the massive pressure from prominent race organizers, especially the Deutschland Tour, who have categorically opposed" allowing the German rider to start.
Jaksche was named in Operación Puerto, and was allegedly filmed entering the building where Dr. Eufemiano Feuntes had his office. Jaksche, who lives in Austria, was under contract to Manolo Saiz' team, but has consistently maintained his innocence.
In a press release, Volksbank manager Thomas Kofler said, "This decision has nothing to do with the person Jaksche. The assumption of innocence belongs to Jörg as it does to the other 47 people named in the Fuentes affair, but we have to consider the future of our team, which would be endangered in the actual situation. Our sponsor didn't want that."
However, Deutschland Tour organizer Kai Rapp told www.radsport-aktiv.de that he would not prevent the whole Volksbank team from participating in his race if it had Jaksche under contract. He also noted that he had spoken with Jaksche. "Jörg and I have come to a 'gentleman's agreement that, pending further developments, he would desist from riding the Deutschland Tour, or that he would not start the Deutschland Tour, if his presence would hurt the race."