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By Andrew Hood
Comunidad Valenciana saw its wild-card bid to start the upcoming Vuelta a España revoked late Thursday by race officials.
Citing the team’s alleged links to the ongoing doping investigation in Spain, race officials said the continental team is no longer invited to the season’s final three-week stage race, set for Aug. 26-Sept. 17. The team will not be replaced.
Vuelta officials based its decision on tough anti-doping language in the ProTour’s Ethics Code – the same rationale cited by Tour de France officials last month when it left out nine riders from four teams ahead of the start in Strasbourg.
“The team was invited by conditions, and the accepted this way, of having signed the ethical code of their world association and not having any incident in related questions to the use of substances and methods prohibited in the sports practice,” a statement read. “This ethical code imposes on this decision to all of us, that we taking under our responsibility with the credibility of this sport and the followers and in spite of the personal and corporate relations with the majority of the members of this sports group.”
Last month, Comunidad Valenciana also lost its wild-card bid to start the 93rd Tour after one of its assistant sport directors was among five people detained in mid-May by Spanish authorities as part of a four-month doping investigation.
Comunidad Valenciana team manager Vicente Belda expressed his disappointment with the decision, saying the Vuelta “finished off the work started by the Tour. They’ve put 30 families out on the street.”
Belda said the team is fighting to prove it has nothing to do with the “Operación Puerto” investigation and said it has court documents to prove it. Belda said the team will take its interests to the Spanish courts to try to earn back its place in the Vuelta.