Schleck admits Fuentes payment

CSC-Saxo Bank rider denies having doped, placed on inactive list by team

Luxembourg rider Fränk Schleck has confirmed initial claims that he made a payment of nearly 7,000 euro to a bank account belonging to Operación Puerto doctor Eufemiano Fuentes back in 2006. His team, CSC-Saxo Bank, has therefore pulled Schleck from racing, saying he must concentrate on his case before the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency (ALAD). "We would like to express our sincere hope that Fränk comes out of this case in a way that is acceptable to him and to the team and we will do our utmost to make the most reasonable and sound decisions for him and for the team," team manager Bjarne Riis said in a press release issued Friday.

Schleck this week met with both the ALAD and the International Cycling Union (UCI), after a prosecutor's office in Luxembourg was given proof to the said bank transfer.

According to the press release, Schleck confirmed the transfer, but said that it was for "training advice by experts who presumably worked with some of the biggest names in the sport," and that he "never used or attempted use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method." He explained that he had "no suspicion of any unlawful action and interrupted the contact after taking advice from his father and his near friends."

Schleck further said that he "has never received, nor made use of any services from these people – including Eufemiano Fuentes, whom he has never met," and that he was not aware of the link between his contact and Fuentes.

The Luxemburger admitted "having made a serious blunder in taking contact to and transferring the money to the bank account and he became early aware that he should not continue any working relationship with these people." He offered to provide a DNA sample for comparison to blood taken into custody in Operación Puerto to prove his innocence.

Riis said that "We were very disappointed to hear that Fränk has been in contact with people who have done great harm to the sport and ruthlessly tarnished the most important principles that we all should adhere to in the fight against doping," calling his behaviour "irresponsible towards himself and his team."

The team manager now waits for information from both the ALAD and the UCI "in order to make an assessment of our further actions in relation to this."

Luxembourg to move fast on Schleck

Meanwhile, the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency wants to come to a quick conclusion concerning Schleck. Although criminal charges are not possible against the CSC rider, he could still face doping charges on sporting grounds.

In an interview with the Luxemburger newspaper Tageblatt, Luxembourg Olympic Committee (COSL) president Marc Theisen said, "For our credibility, but also in the interest of the athletes, it is important to find out the truth as quickly as possible. The goal must be to explain the affair as soon as possible and to find a credible explanation. At the moment, it is all about finding out what the payment of 7,000 euro was all about."

The Olympic Committee was hit with another doping case on Thursday, when it was disclosed that the 16-year-old swimmer who carried the flag at the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics had tested positive for an asthma medication at the Junior World Championships earlier this summer.

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