Blanco Pro Cycling has suspended Spanish rider Luis Leon Sanchez pending the result of an internal investigation into the rider after press reports linked him to Eufemiano Fuentes, the Spanish doctor currently on trial in relation to Operacion Puerto.
In a statement, the Dutch WorldTour outfit, renamed after Rabobank pulled its sponsorship in December – the bank is however continuing to finance it for the 2013 season – said: "Team Blanco has started an investigation against rider Luis Leon Sanchez after stories in the media about his possible involvement in the case-Fuentes.
“Until there is clarity about the outcome of the investigation is Luis Leon Sanchez is not included in a selection of Blanco."
According to a report on the website of the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, blood bags codenamed ‘Huerto’ and number 26 seized in 2006 by Spanish authorities as part of the Operacion Puerto investigation relate to Sanchez.
In testimony from former Discovery Channel rider Volodymyr Bileka released when the United States Anti-Doping Agency published its Reasoned Decision in the Lance Armstrong case last October, Sanchez was also named as one of 13 riders who attended a training camp on Tenerife in 2006 with the now banned doctor and trainer, Michele Ferrari.
A multiple Spanish national time trial champion, the 32-year-old from the Murcia region has won four Tour de France stages, the Clasica de San Sebastian twice, and also took the overall in the Tour Down Under in 2005 and Paris-Nice in 2009.
He rode for Liberty Seguros, the team at the centre of the Operacion Puerto scandal, from 2004 to 2006 and joined Caisse d’Epargne in 2007. In 2011, he moved to Rabobank.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.