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Seven Spanish riders face doping sanctions

Spain "no worse or better" than other nations says top official...

Director General of Spain’s Sports Council, Albert Soler, has revealed that two Spanish cyclists are about to be sanctioned for doping offences while a further five are under investigation for “abnormal haematocrit levels.”

In what is widely being seen - outside Spain at least - as a blitz against an endemic doping culture, Soler said the move is part of a new strategy to deal with the problem.

“These are shock tactics to counter what’s happening in the world of cycling,” Soler is reported as saying by Bloomberg News. “The seven were targeted with surprise drug tests after they had unusual readings in their  biological passports, which monitor blood parameters like haemoglobin," he added.

Alberto Contador is not among the seven riders concerned but Soler says he will not reveal the identities of the athletes. Soler made the announcement at a conference in Madrid entitled “Do We Have a Doping Problem in Spain?” where he claimed the answer to that question was effectively yes, but that it was no worse or better than the average problem.

“The statistics tell us that Spain is about average in terms of positive doping results,” he said. “According to data from Madrid’s antidoping laboratory, in 2009 the percentage of Spaniards with adverse test results was 1.2% compared to WADA’s global figure of 1.11% meaning we are 0.09% above average."

Meanwhile Reuters reports that funding for the Spanish Anti-Doping Agency (AEA) will be reduced next year as part of a series of national austerity measures being proposed by the government.

Spain's Sports Council which is responsible for the AEA, is due to lose around 8%  of its funding compared to the 2010 budget, which amounts to a loss of around 14.5 million euros, the agency reports.

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