After the Spanish sports minister and Tour de France organiser ASO officials, the International Cycling Union has also been given the detailed report on Operación Puerto, which links many pro cyclists of the international peloton the Madrid-based doping ring. The UCI has issued an official statement on Friday afternoon, saying that it "assumes that the following riders, registered to participate in the 2006 Tour de France, are involved in the affair: Sergio Paulinho, Isidro Nozal, Allan Davis, Alberto Contador, Joseba Beloki, Francisco Mancebo, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla."
Four more cyclists (Paulinho, Nozal, Davis and Contador) thus join the list of five riders that have already been refused the right to start the race tomorrow. According to the UCI, "The involvement [of these riders] does not mean that an anti-doping violation has been established. However, the indications of the mentioned report are serious enough."
At this point, it is not clear whether 'only' these nine riders will be excluded from the race; or if there will be more. The fate of team Astana-Würth is also still not known - even though the International Court of Arbitration for Sport yesterday ruled that the team was granted the right to participate, ASO has refused to accept that decision. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that the team should start with only four riders, as five of them seem to be caught up in the doping affair and that it is said that none of the excluded riders will be replaced.
Later during the evening, ASO is expected to issue the new, official start list of those cyclists that will take on the Tour de France tomorrow.
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