Team Tinkoff Credit Systems stated in a press release Wednesday that it would not only pull Jorg Jaksche and Tyler Hamilton from participation in the Giro d'Italia "due to the new circumstances and decisions made public in the last few days," but that it would also suspend the duo from the team in light of recent developments.
The team said the "decision is also aiming at relieving pressure created around the Giro, that will start Saturday, and on the team itself after the statements made by all the other teams" to not allow the start of any riders implicated in Operación Puerto.
Hamilton and Jaksche's suspension period is indefinite. It will remain in effect until "the competent authorities will have finally sorted out all the implication of the riders in Operación Puerto." Operación Puerto broke nearly a year ago, yet most implicated riders are still facing an uncertain fate.
The names of both have appeared on the list of riders who have allegedly had contact with Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, the man in the centre of an ongoing blood doping case.
Hamilton was hoping to use the Giro as a major comeback race. The winner of the 2004 Olympic time trial served a two-year suspension for blood doping prior to returning early in 2007 to competition.
The team said it is supporting the decisions of UCI President Pat McQuaid and Giro d'Italia race organizers to fight doping by suspending Hamilton and Jaksche as well as Danilo Hondo.
Hamilton and Jaksche join a list of other riders pulled from the Giro including Ivan Basso, Michele Scarponi, Constantino Zaballa, and Ruben Plaza. Basso has confessed to "attempted doping," and Scarponi has signed a confession with CONI.
Director of the Giro d'Italia Angelo Zomegnan has asked the UCI to provide a list of suspects in Operación Puerto and also requested that none of them compete in the Giro.
According to the AFP, Rome prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into doping in cycling. They have requested files for the Basso and Scarponi cases.
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