UCI president McQuaid defends Menchov

Denis Menchov (Rabobank)

Denis Menchov (Rabobank) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

International Cycling Union (UCI) President Pat McQuaid blasted reports that allege links bbetween Giro d'Italia race leader Denis Menchov and Vienna blood bank, Humanplasma. The Irishman visited the three-week stage race Friday near Naples, two days before the finish in Rome.

"There is no justification until you get the positives or the proof - the physical proof. I don't want to speculate on anybody," McQuaid told Cyclingnews.

Unnamed reports associated Russia's Menchov with an ongoing Austrian investigation on Wednesday. Menchov told journalists the same day that the Austrian investigators have not contacted him and referred to statements in January 2008, when he denied any connection.

The reports gathered momentum following Bernard Kohl's public statements on German television. The Austrian cyclist tested positive for third generation blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO) CERA in the 2008 Tour de France. He is serving a two-year suspension as a result and this week announced his retirement.

"I would not put a lot of faith in what he [Kohl] says. It is always guys who get caught and thrown out who start reflecting a little bit, preparing a book, and they come out with anything. Unless we have proof, we can not go and do anything," McQuaid told gathered reporters.

Austrian authorities are currently investigating Kohl for an alleged role in renting out a centrifuge used for blood doping.

Menchov leads the Giro d'Italia by 18 seconds over Danilo Di Luca. The race ends with a 14.4-kilometre time trial on Sunday.

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