4 Spanish teams withdraw from women's Tour de France
Vuelta considers altering route to avoid entering France
Posted: Wednesday September 02, 1998 07:41 PM
MADRID, Spain (CNN/SI) -- Four Spanish teams withdrew Tuesday from the women's Tour de France, while organizers of the Vuelta (Tour of Spain) are considering altering the race's route so that it doesn't enter France.
The four Spanish teams - Banesto, ONCE, Kelme and Vitali Cio dropped out of the the women's tour to protest alleged harassment by the French police in the course of the drug investigations which tarnished the men's race.
"We take this measure because of the poor treatment received by Spanish cyclists and teams in the Tour de France," the Spanish Cycling Federation said in a statement.
"It's a test of solidarity for fear that the same incidents will occur in other races and that will only contribute to damage the image of cycling."
The women's race starts August 11 and lasts for 10 days.
On Monday, officials of the ONCE team said they were studying legal action against Tour organizers. They also announced that the team was pulling out of three races it had been due to take part in France later this year - the Tour of Limousin, the Paris-Tours race and the Tour de l'Avenir.
"We can't just leave things like this," said ONCE chairman Jose Maria Arroyo. "We are studying taking action against the organizers, against those who have condemned us without evidence, against those who have attacked [our] cyclists.
"We will go to any court or international organization necessary to defend our rights which have been trodden on," said Arroyo.
ONCE team doctor Nicolas Terrados, who was charged by a French judge last Friday with incitement and facilitating the use of doping substances, told reporters, "I've never used anything against the health of my sportsmen. This has always been the way in my career.
"I would not have spent so much time abroad investigating to end up using drugs," Terrados said. "What they found in my bag and on the bus is what one would expect to find in a doctor's bag."
Terrados, who had been ordered by the French judge not to have any contacts with ONCE, spoke at a separate press conference from Arroyo.
Separately, organizers of the Tour of Spain said Tuesday they were considering modifying the route of the race to avoid entering France.
"We're studying whether it's advisable to enter France after what has happened," said spokesman Fernando Rojo.The Spanish tour is to be held between September 5-27. On September 18, it is due to enter France for 80 kilometers of the 13th stage.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.