COMUNITAT VALENCIANA EXCLUDED FROM TOUR

Comunitat

Spanish squad Comunitat Valenciana have had their invitation to take part in the Tour de France withdrawn, after one of their assistant directeur sportifs was arrested in a anti-doping investigation last month.

Tour organisers ASO said today that no team would replace Comunitat Valenciana, cutting the number of Tour squads taking part in the 2006 race to 21.

Valenciana?s assistant directeur sportif Jose Ignacio Labarta was one of five individuals detained during ?Operacion Puerto? in late May, the biggest anti-doping operation in the history of Spanish sport.

Released less than a day later, Labarta then resigned from his post. However, the Tour has nonetheless excluded his team.

A decision whether another Spanish team, Astana-Wurth whose former team manager Manolo Saiz was involved in the doping probe, can race the Tour is expected soon.

However, the Tour are waiting for the UCI ProTour council to deliver a verdict on whether the squad continues to belong to the top cycling league following Saiz?s detention, before acting themselves.

The Tour de France starts in Strasbourg on July 1, 2006.

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