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Pevenage: ‘There wasn’t just one Fuentes’

By Andrew Hood

Rudy Pevenage – the former Telekom sport director who’s now behind the wheel at Rock Racing – suggested there was more than one large-scale doping ring operating in Europe when the Operación Puerto scandal erupted in May 2006.

Peverage — who tutored 1997 Tour de France champion Jan Ullrich throughout much of his career – said in an interview with the Basque daily GARA that alleged ringleader Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes wasn’t the only doctor working illicitly with elite athletes.

“There was not just one Fuentes in Spain, but at least five, and no one speaks about that. They only looked for one,” Pevenage said. “In France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, everywhere, and no one says a thing. And not just cycling, but also in other sports. In Operación Puerto there were other athletes, but of them no one knows a thing.”

Pevenage and Ullrich were both linked by Spanish authorities to the Puerto doping scandal and later fired by the T-Mobile team just ahead of the start of the 2006 Tour de France.

Ullrich has not raced since and Pevenage only recently returned to working as a sport director, joining Rock Racing this year.

The Belgian director is among several Puerto “refugees” who have found a home at Rock Racing.

Others who were linked to the Spanish blood doping scandal but never formally charged by Spanish authorities include Oscar Sevilla, Tyler Hamilton, Paco Mancebo, José Enrique Gutíerrez and former Rock rider Santiago Botero.

Pevenage remains bitter about the price he and many pros have had to pay by being associated with the Operación Puerto doping scandal.

“We have paid by being excluded and now is the time to look forward, not backward, because a lot of other riders have stayed in the peloton with the same problems,” Pevenage continued. “No riders from other teams in California and Castilla y León are against us. Everyone was happy that we are back racing with them.”

Concerning a comeback by his former pupil Ullrich, Pevenage said it’s unlikely.

“He still likes cycling, but he doesn’t return because they’ve treated him very badly,” he said. “In Germany, they treat him like a delinquent. It’s an embarrassment and he didn’t give a positive, just the proof of Fuentes.”

The Puerto story seemingly has no end. Spanish rider Alejandro Valverde is currently battling allegations leveled in Italy.

A decision is expected soon from Italian authorities on whether to pursue a two-year ban against Valverde for what they allege are DNA matches from samples taken in last year’s Tour de France stage at Prato Nevoso and bags of blood confiscated by Spanish police in 2006 from Fuentes’ office.

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