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Spanish authorities shoot back at McQuaid over doping comments

There’s a war of words brewing between UCI president Pat McQuaid and Spanish authorities, who are angered over allegations by cycling’s boss that Spain is a haven for doping.

McQuaid raised the ire of Spanish authorities earlier this month when he said too many doping cases originate in Spain, comments he made during the 2010 world championships following a string of high-profile doping cases involving Spanish cyclists.

Spain shot back this week, saying in an official statement it has a “zero tolerance” policy on doping and said it’s up to the UCI to do more to clean up cycling.

“The problem of doping is not in Spain, but in the agony that some sports demand,” said a joint statement released by the Consejo Superior de Deportes and the Agencia Antidopaje, Spain’s top federal sport authorities.

“The president of the UCI would do well to dedicate all his energy to improve the situation of his sport, rather than dilute his responsibility by accusing a country like Spain, with its undisputable policy of ‘zero tolerance’ places it on the vanguard in the fight against doping,” the statement read.

McQuaid’s original comments came during the Geelong world championships, just after several Spanish cyclists were nabbed in doping allegations.

In what was called the “semana negra” in Spain, 2010 Tour champ Alberto Contador, Vuelta runner-up Ezequiel Mosquera and teammate David Garcia as well as three-time mountain bike world champion Marga Fullana were all accused of doping within a 72-hour period.

“There is a problem in Spain because … a large percentage of our doping cases come from Spain,” McQuaid told reporters in Geelong. “There doesn’t seem to be, so far, the will to tackle that in Spain and that really needs to come from the government down.”

On Tuesday, CSD denied that McQuaid had since maintained private conversations with Spanish authorities, who promised to do more to combat doping.

“It is absolutely false that the Spanish authorities have recognized a problem more than any other country,” the statement read. “Both Javier Martín del Burgo, director of AEA, and Albert Soler, president of CSD, spoke with Pat McQuaid, they did it in front of witnesses and they never acknowledged it had a unique problem.”

This is not the first time that McQuaid has locked horns with Spanish authorities. The UCI president continues to express frustration over the inability for Spanish courts to get to the bottom of the Operación Puerto doping scandal dating back to 2006.

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