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Spain doping probe confined to cycling - Sports Council

Written by: Staff
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MADRID, July 4 (Reuters) The Spanish government has categorically denied that footballers and tennis players are implicated in the doping investigation that has hit cycling.

''We strongly deny that any Spanish or foreign footballers or tennis players have been involved in the operation,'' the government-run Sports Council (CSD) said in a statement today.

''The CSD considers it a disgrace that reports have appeared in a French paper that suggest, without any basis in fact, that a number of footballers and even a named tennis player were involved in the operation.

''The reports lack any basis in truth given that no footballers or tennis players are affected by the investigation that is being carried out by the Civil Guard.'' The investigation came to light when the Civil Guard raided a number of addresses in Madrid and Zaragoza in late May and found large quantities of anabolic steroids, laboratory equipment used for blood transfusions and more than 100 bags of frozen blood.

Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who has collaborated with a number of cycling teams and individual riders, the sporting director of the former Liberty Seguros team Manolo Saiz and the assistant director of the Comunidad Valenciana team Jose Ignacio Labarta were among those questioned by the police.

The names of more than 50 professional cyclists appeared in a report on the investigation which was subsequently compiled by the Civil Guard.

Pre-race favourites Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso and Francisco Mancebo were withdrawn by their teams from the Tour de France on Friday after their names appeared in the report.

International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid said afterwards that footballers, tennis players and athletes were also on the list.

REUTERS PDS HT1545

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