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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.