Manuel Beltran Tests Non-Negative
Tour de France organizer A.S.O. has announced that Team Liquigas veteran Spanish rider Manuel Beltran has tested non-negative for EPO in a doping test carried out at the end of stage 1 of the 2008 Tour de France.
After receiving the unfortunate news, Liquigas Sport S.p.A. (Italian company) has pulled the rider out of the Tour de France and has also suspended him while they wait for the result of the 2nd doping test. If the counter-doping test confirms that Beltràn was indeed non-negative, the team is expected to dismiss the rider and could, according to the team itself, sue the rider for damages.
Team Liquigas manager Roberto Amadio says that he is “shocked [to learn] the news. We wait for the result of further provided checks and at the same time, even though with regret, we prepare ourselves to take on strict disciplinary measures, according with the values that our team has always respected”.
Friday evening, French police officers were searching the rooms of other Liquigas riders looking for illegal substances.
In a phone interview conducted by the Associated Press, head of the International Cycling Union Mr. Pat McQuaid commented "When are these idiots going to learn that it's over? ... They continue to think that they can beat the system. They're wrong. The system is catching up all the time ... It is very damaging to the sport. Once more, the sport suffers." - as do the clean riders.
The Tour organizer A.S.O. has decided to allow the rest of Team Liquigas to continue taking part in the 2008 Tour de France.
It should be noted that Team Astana was not allowed to start in this year’s Tour because some of its former riders tested non-negative last year – but apparently Team Liquigas is still welcome in the Tour de France in spite of the just announced doping incident.