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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 July 2006, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
Astana-Wurth forced out of Tour
Alexandre Vinokourov finds himself the centre of attention in Strasbourg
Alexandre Vinokourov will not be racing after all
The Astana-Wurth team have withdrawn from the Tour de France despite being cleared by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Thursday to race.

Five of their team were named in the Spanish anti-doping investigation which has forced 13 riders out of the event.

The five are Spaniards Joseba Beloki, Alberto Contador and Isidro Nozal, Australian Allan Davis and Sergio Paulinho from Portugal.

The team withdrew them late on Friday, leaving them with too few riders left.

Team leader Alexandre Vinokourov - fifth overall in last year's Tour - was not among those named in the investigation but does not have enough team-mates left to compete.

The Court of Arbitration (CAS) had rejected a bid by race organisers on Thursday to exclude the team following newspaper claims it was involved in doping.

"CAS could not ban a team on the basis of press reports. We needed more," said CAS general secretary Matthieu Reeb.

But Astana-Wurth officials, who initially refused a request from Tour organisers to withdraw the riders, finally pulled out on Friday evening.

"Despite the number of troubling elements brought out by the media in Spain concerning the team, no official information concerning this inquiry has been revealed by the Spanish authorities," CAS said.

Police raids

Spanish daily El Pais was responsible for making the allegations against the Astana-Wurth team.

It reported that investigations showed at least 15 members of the team - formerly known as Liberty Seguros - were among 58 professional cyclists who may have received prohibited substances and blood transfusions in recent years.

No riders have been charged in the widening investigation, although former Liberty Seguros team director Manolo Saiz and others were arrested in the case.

Saiz was questioned by police last month as part of what the Spanish media called the country's biggest anti-doping probe.

Police said they had raided a number of addresses and found a large quantity of medical supplies, such as anabolic steroids, and more than 100 frozen packs of blood.

Saiz, who denies any involvement in doping, was later released but resigned from his position with the team.



SEE ALSO
Tour de France riders' guide
26 Jun 06 |  Cycling
Drug-probe team lose Tour invite
13 Jun 06 |  Cycling
Director quits after drugs probe
09 Jun 06 |  Cycling


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