The men's Spanish national championships road race was cancelled after just three kilometres on Sunday after riders abandoned the race as a sign of protest after leaks to the press from the ?Operacion Puerto? anti-doping raids.

Spanish riders Association President Jose Rodriguez announced from the race podium that the 221 kilometre event, held in Mostoles near Madrid, was over before it had hardly began.

The riders were angry after the El Pais newspaper reported in their Sunday edition that at least 58 professional cyclists were implicated in the drugs ring dismantled by Spanish police on May 23rd.

According to El Pais, the drugs ring not only organised blood transfusions, but also provided riders with banned substances such as EPO, growth hormone and anabolic steroids. The ring also gave the riders detailed programs for how and when they should use the substances at certain points in the season.

El Pais, said that each rider paid 40 thousand euros (25,000 pounds) for each yearly ?program?.

The former manager of Liberty Seguros, Manolo Saiz, resigned recently after he and four other individuals were arrested as part of the Operacion Puerto operations. His team, now known as Astana-Wurth and led by Kazakh Alexandre Vinokourov, were given the green light to ride the Tour de France by the UCI on Friday, although cycling?s top body said that that permission could be withdrawn if further information came to light.

The Spanish Cycling Federation accepted the riders? protest and said that they would be taking legal action over repeated leaks from the case to the Spanish press.

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