Riis: “I do not know Fuentes”

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Bjarne Riis has denied introducing Tyler Hamilton to Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, as the American has described in his soon-to-be-published book. Riis said that he does not know the Spanish doctor.

“I can absolutely deny that this is the case. It is simply not true,” Riis told the Ritzau news agency.  “I do not know Fuentes. I have never met him.”

He had no further comment. “I will not say more about this case. Nor do I think I need to comment on anything. And do not intend to do so.”

Hamilton's book, 'The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs', co-written by Daniel Coyle, to be released next week. In it, he claimed that Riis introduced him to Fuentes when he left US Postal for Riis' Team CSC in 2002.

Extensive records said to be related to Hamilton were found during Operacion Puerto, including a calendar of doping treatments. A positive doping sample at the 2004 Olympics was negated by a mishandled B sample, but he subsequently admitted to the doping and his medal was removed. Hamilton then tested positive for blood doping at the Vuelta a Espana 2004 and was given a two-year ban. After returning to cycling, he tested positive for a steroid in 2009 and was given an eight-year ban.

Hamilton's comments were not the first connection between Riis' team and Fuentes. In 2008, Fränk Schleck admitted to having paid Fuentes nearly 7,000 Euro in 2006 for “training advice.”  Schleck also claimed never to have met the Spanish doctor. At the time, Riis said “We were very disappointed to hear that Fränk has been in contact with people who have done great harm to the sport.”

Riis' most promiment connection was through Ivan Basso. The Italian was to lead CSC as captain at the 2006 Tour de France, when he was revealed as a Fuentes client shortly before the race started. Basso continued to deny the connection until confessing to 'attempted doping' in the spring of 2007.

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