Luis Leon Sanchez seeks UCI help in forcing Blanco Pro Cycling to let him race
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Luis Leon Sanchez seeks UCI help in forcing Blanco Pro Cycling to let him race

by Shane Stokes at 7:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Rider has not competed since last September, currently placed on inactive status by team

Luis Leon SanchezOfficially sidelined from competition on February 2nd by his Blanco Pro Cycling team, Luis Leon Sanchez is seeking assistance from the UCI in order to try to return to the peloton.

The Spanish rider was placed on non-active status over two months ago and there is no indication as to if and when Blanco will allow him to begin competing again. He is suspected of being the rider codenamed ‘Huerto’ in the doping list of Eufemiano Fuentes, although he denies all involvement.

In January the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported that a phone tap mentioned in the Puerto files led to the connection being made between Sanchez and the Huerto codename. That phone conversation relates to the prologue of the 2006 Tour of Catalunya, where Sanchez missed the start.

“Huerto called me,” Puerto ringleader Dr Eufemiano 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 in that race. Another conversation notes that ‘Huerto’ was due to leave for Liberty Seguros training camp in the Pyrenees, which also occurred.

“Pending the results of the Team Blanco investigation into rider Luis León Sánchez, he will not be put on a Blanco race roster,” the Dutch squad indicated on February 2nd.

The team reportedly scrutinised his blood values as part of an internal investigation.

De Telegraaf reports that Sanchez has now approached the UCI to try to get the team to overturn his suspension. He last competed in the world championships last September, where he was part of the squad’s fifth place in the team time trial.

Sanchez moved to the team – which was then called Rabobank - in 2011 and picked up victory on stage fourteen of the Tour de France. He also took a stage in the same race last year and won the Clasica San Sebastian. Those performances earned him a new three year contract, worth a rumoured €2.6 million.

The Rabobank sponsor subsequently dropped its support for the team, but under Dutch contract law it must honour the agreements it made with riders unless a replacement sponsor is found for the squad. That team has been renamed Blanco Pro Cycling, and it is currently seeking a new backer.

It wants to avoid any negative headlines and with the Operacion Puerto trial having been held this year in Spain, sidelining Sanchez meant that it didn’t have a rider suspected of being involved in that case racing on its roster.

It remains to be seen if the UCI will agree with the team’s tactic, or if it will see Blanco’s action as being too restrictive.

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