Riders reiterate their innocence

The Tour de France big favourites have again been named by Spanish media in relation with the doping products and blood transfusion network around Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, which was uncovered by Spanish police during the final week of the Giro d'Italia. Only 36 hours before the start of the Tour in Strasbourg, the international cycling community is still waiting for official information of the investigation which began with the arrest of former Liberty Seguros manager Manolo Saiz just over one month ago, and which has slowly but steadily grown to be a nightmare.

Jan Ullrich, who affirmed in the past that he has never cheated throughout his career, has reportedly been linked to the affair by code name tags found on blood bags and training plans seized by police. "I have nothing to do with the speculations of a Spanish newspaper," Ullrich said again today. "I have asked my lawyer to take care of it." As of now, Ullrich continued, he wouldn't comment on the case anymore "to concentrate fully on my season highlight, the Tour de France. I owe that to my team and my fans."

Also Ivan Basso, Giro d'Italia winner, was mentioned to have a relation to the doping ring. "It's the same story than one month ago," was Basso's comment, taking the same approach as his biggest rival. "I won't respond to those calls."

Several sources indicate that the official information on the 58 (or 56) riders implicated in the scandal will be available by Friday, June 30, at 9.30am European time, when the Spanish judge will release the investigation documents, already believed to have been handed out to the Spanish minister for Sport, Jaime Lissavetzky. Of those named, a total of 22 cyclists are rumoured to be on the Tour de France start list. "Those riders named in the dossier will not be allowed to start," said Patrick Lefévère, president of the professional team's association AIGCP and manager of team Quick.Step.

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