Blanco Pro Cycling suspends Luis Leon Sanchez pending outcome of enquiry
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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Blanco Pro Cycling suspends Luis Leon Sanchez pending outcome of enquiry

by VeloNation Press at 6:44 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
No racing for rider due to implication in Operación Puerto

Luis Leon SanchezHe’s been one of the team’s top performers in recent years but the Blanco Pro Cycling enquiry into reported links between Luis Leon Sanchez and Operación Puerto have now led to his suspension from racing.

The Spaniard is suspected of being the rider codenamed ‘Huerto’ in the doping list of Eufemiano Fuentes and now, with that doctor’s trial rumbling on in Spain, the team has formalised its position on the rider.

“Pending the results of the Team Blanco investigation into rider Luis León Sánchez, he will not be put on a Blanco race roster,” it indicated earlier today.

Last week Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported that a phone tap reported in the Puerto files led to the connection being made between Sanchez and the Huerto codename. It relates to the prologue of the 2006 Tour of Catalunya, where Sanchez missed the start. “Huerto called me,” Fuentes said in a recorded phone conversation. “Yeah, they told me,” his assistance Ignacio Labarta answers. “He was 25 seconds too late for the start of the prologue”.

Sanchez’s delay was indeed the same number of seconds. Another conversation notes that ‘Huerto’ was due to leave for Liberty Seguros training camp in the Pyrenees, which indeed did occur.

Pressure has increased on the rider of late as a result of the renewed interest in Puerto. The team is reportedly scrutinising his blood values and has launched an internal investigation.

Sanchez moved to the Rabobank team in 2011 and salvaged the team’s Tour de France with victory on stage fourteen. He also took a stage in this year and won the Clasica San Sebastian. Those performances earned him a new three year contract, worth a rumoured €2.6 million.

That deal was signed before Rabobank dropped its sponsorship, but the bank is obliged under Dutch contract law to honour the agreements it made with riders unless a replacement sponsor is found for the squad, which has been renamed Blanco Pro Cycling.

If the team seeks to drop Sanchez, the fine print in its contract with him will determine if, when and under what conditions this is possible.

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