Sanchez dropped by Belkin over investigation links, receives payoff
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sanchez dropped by Belkin over investigation links, receives payoff

by VeloNation Press at 4:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Dutch team makes settlement with rider, who leaves with two years left on his contract

Luis Leon SanchezHaving already been sidelined for a period earlier this year as a result of his alleged links with Operacion Puerto, Luis Leon Sanchez is being eased out of the Belkin Procycling team with a payoff. The Dutch squad is nervous of any rider with question marks over them and isn’t willing to take a chance with Sanchez.

De Telegraaf reports that while he has two more years left on his current contract, that the team prefers to pay him off to leave now. It means, ironically, that the rider could end up making more money as a result of his past associations, but the team realises the importance of removing doubts.

It emerged out of the ashes of the Rabobank team, which was linked to previous scandals such as the Michael Rasmussen affair, and had to search long and hard for a replacement backer.

According to De Telegraaf, the severance package may have been negotiated as early as May of this year.

Back 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 codename Huerto. That phone conversation related 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, as published by NRC Handelsblad. “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.

The team stated on February 2nd that it was investigating the rider and that he would be not allowed to race while that investigation was ongoing.

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

Sanchez then went to the UCI to try to force the team to let him race. On May 8th the team confirmed that it would agree to this demand.

“Blanco Pro Cycling accepts the arbitral demand made by the rider recognising the obligation to enter him in official competitions. Because of this, the rider will return in the Tour of Belgium on May 22nd,” it said in a statement then.

Sanchez won stage five in Belgium, then went on to take second in the Spanish national time trial championships and third in the road race. In August he won a stage and placed second overall in the Tour de l’Ain.

In addition to being linked to Operacion Puerto, he was also linked to the separate Operacion Galgo investigation.

His plans for 2014 are not yet known.


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