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Last Updated: Friday, 2 June 2006, 23:06 GMT 00:06 UK
Phonak sidelines duo from racing
Phonak riders Jose Enrique Gutierrez (left) and Santiago Botero
Guiterrez (left) and Botero will not be allowed to race
Phonak will not select two of its racers until the investigation into alleged doping in Spain is concluded.

The Swiss team said it had withdrawn Spain's Jose Enrique Gutierrez and Colombian Santiago Botero until the inquiry could "bring more clarity".

Gutierrez, the Giro d'Italia runner-up, has been linked in the Spanish media to doctor Eufemanio Fuentes, who is one of five people being investigated.

Fuentes was released on bail last week after being arrested in Madrid.

Liberty Seguros team boss Manolo Saiz, Comunidad Valenciana team official Jose Ignacio Labarta, Fuentes, fellow doctor Jose Luis Merino and mountain biker Alberto Leon were questioned and released by police.

However, Phonak made it clear it was not suspending or dismissing either Botero or Gutierrez, and said it had consulted both riders before making the decision public.

"We have decided to take this step in the interests of the team and to ensure calm for all team members," said Phonak general manager John Lelangue.

"If further investigations show that the riders have used methods that are not permitted, they will of course be dismissed."

Gutierrez finished second behind Ivan Basso in last month's Giro d'Italia while Botero is a former winner of the King of the Mountains competition in the Tour de France.

Last week Spanish police revealed they had found large quantities of anabolic steroids, laboratory equipment used for blood transfusions and more than 100 bags of frozen blood in raids on addresses in Madrid and Zaragoza.

Doping is not a criminal offence in Spain, so the investigation centres on public health issues.

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