Schleck denies doping, offers to submit to DNA test, CSC sidelines him
By Andrew Hood
Team CSC-Saxo Bank star Fränk Schleck has admitted he paid nearly 7000 euros to alleged blood-doping guru Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes in 2006, but denied he doped or ever met Fuentes.
CSC-Saxo Bank boss Bjarne Riis suspended Schleck from racing Friday until Luxembourg authorities decide whether or not to move ahead with a disciplinary hearing that could result in a possible two-year racing ban.
“We were very disappointed to hear that Fränk has been in contact with people who have done great harm to the sport and ruthlessly tarnished the most important principles that we all should adhere to in the fight against doping,” Riis said in a team statement released Friday. “For the moment, Fränk has to concentrate fully on this case and we will await further information from both the Luxembourg anti-doping committee and the UCI in order to make an assessment of our further actions in relation to this.”
The 28-year-old Schleck, who wore the yellow jersey in this year’s Tour de France, met with officials from the Luxembourg anti-doping agency (ALAD) and the UCI this week to explain why he transferred 6991.91 euros into a Swiss bank account owned by Fuentes, the controversial Spanish doctor at the center of the Operación Puerto doping scandal.
Riis said that contact between Fuentes and Schleck never advanced beyond “the point of initial contact and was interrupted two months before the Puerto case got public. He has shown great remorse in his attitude towards this serious blunder and he is fully aware that he has not been acting in accordance with the rules of the team.”
More than 50 cyclists were linked to Fuentes after Spanish authorities uncovered a widespread blood-doping ring in May 2006.
A Spanish judge officially closed the case this week, but repercussions of scandal continue to rattle through the sport.
Ivan Basso, a CSC team member in 2006, was one of nine riders excluded from the start of the 2006 Tour de France and, after months of denying any role in the Puerto scandal, admitted he worked with Fuentes with the “intention of doping” and served an 18-month ban set to end later this month.
Basso, along with Michele Scarponi and Jorg Jaksche, are the only riders to serve bans for links to the Puerto scandal.
The latest revelations could change that and Luxembourg officials have promised swift action on whether or not to move forward with any possible sporting bans against Schleck.
Luxembourg officials said Wednesday that Schleck has not broken any laws, but said it still considering opening a disciplinary action.
After evidence of the bank transfer was leaked, Schleck was outed by a German newspaper last week as “Amigo de Birillo” as one of the code names found in the Puerto papers in police raids.
Citing a lack of evidence to stop him, UCI officials allowed Schleck to race in Sunday’s road cycling world championships in Varese, Italy, where he finished 41st at 4:53 back.
Schleck appeared before Luxembourg officials on Wednesday.
According to testimony, it appears that no further transactions were made into the Swiss account.
According to CSC-Saxo Bank officials, Schleck admitted to the following:
? He never used or attempted use of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method.Team CSC-Saxo Bank officials also insisted that Schleck’s blood values “from then and now show no indication of any tampering, manipulation or anything that could suggest the use of illegal substances or methods. This has been confirmed by Dr Rasmus Damsgaard, Bispebjerg University Hospital who has analyzed the values,” a statement read.
? He has confirmed that he has made the bank transaction to the Swiss account in march 2006, in order to receive training advice by experts who presumably worked with some of the biggest names in the sport. At the time, Fränk Schleck had no reason to believe that this was not the case. There was no suspicion on his behalf of any unlawful action. He interrupted the contact after taking advice from his father and his near friends.
? He deeply regrets having taken initial contact to these people and confirms to both his team and the Luxembourg Anti-doping committee that his involvement never went beyond the initial contact, i.e. the bank transfer.
? He has never received, nor made use of any services from these people – including Eufemiamo Fuentes, whom he has never met. He did not know the name of Mr. Fuentes until the Puerto case was revealed on May 23th by the Spanish authorities. He realized the link between his contact and Mr Fuentes only a couple of weeks after this date.
? He is fully prepared to give a sample of his DNA to relevant authorities to prove that he has not stored blood in Madrid or elsewhere in order to make use of illegal performance enhancing methods.
? He admits having made a serious blunder in taking contact to and transferring the money to the bank account and he quickly became aware that he should not continue any working relationship with these people.