Two of the favourites for this year's Tour de France, Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich, are under pressure not to start the race tomorrow after their implication in an anti-doping operation in Spain.
Basso and Ullrich were two of 56 cyclists listed as officially under investigation after the bulk of the report from Operacion Puerto was made public yesterday. The 56, according to the investigation, have potential links to the former team doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, one of five arrested last month after Madrid police dismantled a drugs ring supplying banned products to athletes.
The Italian and German have strongly denied any involvement with Fuentes. However, both the Tour de France and the teams themselves are likely to take a strong line with the two - and the other implicated riders - in the face of an apparently perpetually rising tide of doping scandals.
"We are not going to take any action yet," said the Teams Association president, Patrick Lefèvre, "but anybody who is officially on that list will be excluded."
Another race favourite, Alexandre Vinokourov, will start after the Court for Arbitration in Sport decided his Astana team would not be excluded despite the implication of several riders - though not Vinokourov.
Alasdair Fotheringham writes for 'Cycling Weekly'Reuse content