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Sastre denies Riis tried to persuade him to dope

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Cadel Evans congratulates Carlos Sastre on his 2008 victory

Cadel Evans congratulates Carlos Sastre on his 2008 victory (Image credit: Tim de Waele/
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Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) apparently carried the dummy with him for the whole Tour in 2003

Carlos Sastre (Team CSC) apparently carried the dummy with him for the whole Tour in 2003 (Image credit: Sirotti)
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Spaniard Carlos Sastre (Cervélo)

Spaniard Carlos Sastre (Cervélo) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Sastre enjoys a glass of champagne with Bjarne Riis in the CSC team car.

Sastre enjoys a glass of champagne with Bjarne Riis in the CSC team car. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Bjarne Riis was at the start

Bjarne Riis was at the start (Image credit: Cyclingnews)

Former Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre has denied any knowledge of doping going on during his time at the CSC team. A report issued by Anti-Doping Denmark (ADD) on Tuesday accused the CSC team, where Sastre rode between 2002 and 2008, of widespread doping. It also tells of Bjarne Riis' knowledge that Tyler Hamilton was a client of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes and that the team manager also instructed Bo Hamburger to obtain EPO for Jörg Jaksche.

"I was aware of what I did and what I do but I was not aware of what others were doing," Sastre told Cyclingnews. "Honestly, I didn't talk about anything like that with my teammates. Never. For me, my point of view about cycling was clear from the beginning and I'm happy with everything that I did and I'm happy with what I achieved."

Sastre was not linked to any of the doping mentioned in the report but his name did come up in relation to a supposed phone conversation between himself and Riis in 2008. According to the report, Riis tried to persuade Sastre to blood dope during the call in 2008. Quoting an anonymous source, the report suggests Riis said to Sastre: "I guess you could still use small blood bags. The others are using it. We know for sure that Discovery are using it."

Sastre, who was unaware of the report's publication, denied that such a conversation happened. "I don't know what is coming out but I don't remember that conversation. He knows me and how I am and I don't think that he would have done this but I don't remember this thing," said Sastre.

Riis told the Danish investigators that the conversation did take place but that Sastre had misunderstood him, and that he was only mentioning that it was still possible. According to the report, the two spoke at the Vuelta a España later that year with Riis explaining that he had not tried to encourage him to dope. The source says that Sastre was angered by Riis' suggestion and indicates that this was the Spaniard's reason for leaving the team at the end of 2008.

Sastre says that the breakdown in relations with his former manager was nothing to do with this conversation but stemmed from his decision to join the Cervélo Test Team. The Spaniard informed Riis of his intentions to leave following the Olympic Games in Beijing.

"He asked me why and I said 'I don’t want to have any problems with anyone in the team. The Schleck brothers are young riders and you have confidence in them and I don't want to be trouble for anyone,'" Sastre explained to Cyclingnews. "The Schleck brothers were coming through as new talent and I was near the end of my career. I had the possibility of starting with a new project, the Cervelo Test Team, and that is why I left."

Sastre says that things turned sour when a number of staff members and riders, including Íñigo Cuesta and Volodymir Gustov, decided to follow the Tour de France winner to his new team. During the Vuelta a España, an incensed Riis accused him of attempting to split up the squad.

"He was very angry with me," said Sastre. "He said that I wanted to destroy the team. He was out of control. I said to him that I wasn't trying to break down his team I just wanted to go to another team and people asked (to go with him). It's the only thing that I remember as the reason things broke down with Bjarne Riis."

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Born in Ireland to a cycling family and later moved to the Isle of Man, so there was no surprise when I got into the sport. Studied sports journalism at university before going on to do a Masters in sports broadcast. After university I spent three months interning at Eurosport, where I covered the Tour de France. In 2012 I started at Procycling Magazine, before becoming the deputy editor of Procycling Week. I then joined Cyclingnews, in December 2013.