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Saunier Duval riders defend team

Saunier rider discuss the events

Saunier rider discuss the events (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The riders of the Saunier Duval-Scott team issued a statement on Monday responding to the negative press created by the doping positive of Riccardo Riccó, the firing of Riccó and stage ten winner Leonardo Piepoli, and the withdrawal of the team from the Tour de France. The remaining riders and staff said, "we [...] have always believed in clean and credible cycling, and this has been the guiding principle in all team meetings."

Team manager Mauro Gianetti was quick to fire Ricco following his 'non-negative' control for EPO and subsequent arrest by French authorities. He also fired Piepoli "because of a violation of the team's ethics code". Riccó denied in court that he had used EPO, and has vowed to fight the accusations and return to the sport.

Following reports that Peipoli had confessed to doping, team directeur Fernando Matxin clarified to El Pais that the Italian was fired because he was the roommate of Riccó and because he could not give "convincing answers" to the questions Gianetti posed.

The riders stood behind Gianetti, saying that he "encouraged us to get involved in humanitarian projects (fighting desertification in Mali, defending human rights, protecting the environment), teaching the importance of the human and ethical aspects associated with cycling beyond sports results".

"We do not accept, and we strongly condemn, the choice made by riders seeking victory through deception." the statement continued. "Therefore, we would not like this incident to stain the team's impeccable reputation, or ours, or the management's.

"We are not ready to pay the price for the mistakes made by others, so he hope we can still rely on the trust society has always had in us, stemming from our serious, honest image."

"We cannot and do not want to ignore the facts: cheaters need to be punished. But we also believe that those who have always fought honestly to defend the honour of the team should be protected."

The statement was signed by: Raúl Alarcón, Raivis Belohvosciks, Alberto Benítez, Rubens Bertogliati, Iker Camaño, David Cañada, Eros Capecchi, Ermanno Capelli, Juan José Cobo, David de la Fuente, Jesús del Nero, Arkaitz Durán, Alberto Fernández de la Puebla, Denis Flahaut, Ángel Gómez, José Ángel Gómez Marchante, Héctor González, Beñat Intxausti, Josep Jufré, Rubén Lobato, Javier Megías, Manuele Mori, Luciano Pagliarini and Aurélien Passeron.

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