Riis associates "not my cup of tea" says Weltz

Johnny Weltz, formerly a director of the CSC team, has responded to the allegations of Tyler Hamilton that team manager Bjarne Riis provided him with recommendations for blood doping, saying that the level of detail provided makes it hard to ignore the claims.

Riis is named in Tyler Hamilton's biography "The Secret Race" as the person who provided Hamilton with Eufemiano Fuentes contact information, and recommended a program of blood transfusions.

Riis has denied knowing Fuentes, who was later the subject of Operación Puerto, during which police uncovered hundreds of stored blood bags, doping products and documents linked to riders such as Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi, Hamiton, Jan Ullrich and Alejandro Valverde.

Hamilton states in the book that the doping methods helped him to win the 2003 Liège - Bastogne - Liège, his solo victory on stage 16 of the 2003 Tour de France and his second place overall in the 2002 Giro d'Italia.

While Weltz was a director with CSC during that time, he says he was outside of Riis' inner circle but grew suspicious of the activities of his then-Girona neighbor Hamilton, who left the city for Madrid in frequent, secret trips to Fuentes' clinic to bank his blood.

"I was wondering why he was going to Madrid, and I asked him," Weltz said to Sporten.dk. "But he said it was just something about going for allergy testing, or something like that."

Weltz was relegated to a desk job the following year, and then left CSC in 2005. "At some point I ended up at the office, I think because there were some stuff that I shouldn't know about. That's just how it was," he said.

"Those people that Bjarne was circulating with back then weren't my kind of types at anyways. I didn't like the circle of people around him back then, therefore, my relationship was distant."

Weltz said he felt that the association with trainer Luigi Cecchini was "maybe not so good with the ambition to build an anti-doping team", although Hamilton states that Cecchini "never handed me so much as an aspirin", and while Cecchini warned him away from Fuentes, he advised that keeping haematocrit from dropping was a regrettable fact of life in cycling.

"I think it's a little too credible to be a lie. I have not read it, but as I understand it is very well documented," Weltz said of the book by Hamilton.

Weltz worked in the US Postal team until the year after Lance Armstrong made his return from cancer, during the time which is increasingly being described as the sport's darkest era of rampant EPO use.

Weltz was disliked by Armstrong, according to Hamilton's book, and pushed out of the team upon his return from cancer. The Dane went on to work as an assistant director for the Memory Card Jack & Jones team, which later became CSC-WorldOnline and then Team CSC. He then moved on to work with the TIAA-CREF/5280 team which eventually became the Garmin-Sharp squad of today.

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