Spanish association defends its pro riders

Following accusations that its riders aren't doing enough to combat doping in cycling in the wake of the Alberto Contador decision, the Spanish Professional Cyclists Association (ACP) has released a statement defending the nation's professional riders.

The ACP has called for more respect of its riders as they participate in all UCI and WADA anti-doping programs and collaborate with Spanish authorities to prevent the incidence of athletes using performance-enhancing drugs.

"The Association of Professional Cyclists asks for respect for our riders, who as we have mentioned have maximum involvement in the fight against doping," read the statement.

"Spanish professional cyclists, through the ACP, collaborate with Spanish sports institutions in the development of standards, prevention [of doping] and education campaigns with a cycling base, collaborate with the Spanish justice system to combat the actions of the athlete which are prohibited. And for all this, the involvement of [Spanish] professional cyclists is maximum."

The statement comes after UCI President Pat McQuaid was critical of Spanish authorities in the wake of Alberto Contador's exoneration from doping charges by the sport's national governing body. He had previously criticised the same powers during last year's UCI Road World Championships in Australia when news of Contador's positive test emerged in the public sphere.

In response to this criticism, the ACP stated: "The Spanish professional cyclists, as well as other cyclists, are subject to doping controls anywhere in the world where biological samples are analysed in anti-doping laboratories accredited by WADA, elected by the UCI, in Lausanne, Paris, Cologne, Madrid, Barcelona, etc.

"That is, the fight against doping on Spanish professional cyclists and everyone else is controlled by institutions that are not Spanish."

The statement follows news that Xavier Tondo reported the advances of a Spanish doping ring, which approached the Movistar rider to purchase illegal performance-enhancing drugs. He passed on an email received in December to police, who have begun investigations into the group.

The ACP also defended the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation, which has come under heavy fire since its decision to deem Contador not guilty of an offence because he didn't intentionally ingest Clenbuterol - the substance for which he tested positive during the 2010 Tour de France's second rest day in Pau.

"Almost all disciplinary proceedings that are pending before the Royal Spanish Cycling Federation, at the request of the UCI, against Spanish professionals, are dealt with by imposing sanctions of a two-year suspension and a fine of 70 percent of their salary that the cyclist should have received during that year, but the money has not been collected," read the statement.

"The powers of the national organisations (Consejo Superior de Deportes) in the field of combating doping in professional cycling is marginal, so the accusations against this institution should be rejected."

And the ACP barely hid its dismay with the seemingly constant attacks on the credibility of its rider when the statement included the following: "If under these conditions, someone with expertise in the fight against doping is allowed to question the cleanliness of Spanish cyclists in general, [they] should raise changes in the system of the fight against doping, because that would certainly be much as stating that the system of fighting doping is failing, at least in cycling."

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