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Asked about his choice of team in light of the three positive tests which have hit the Astana squad in recent weeks, Jakob Fuglsang has explained his decision to sign with the squad, rejected any doping on his part and raised questions about Tinkoff Saxo.
“To a certain extent I can understand people who doubt my choice of team, but then I would like to know which teams we can rely on?” he said to TV 2 Sport. “I would not rely on everyone from Tinkoff-Saxo. There is also someone there that has a less nice past, which I would not trust.”
The Danish rider wasn’t clear on who he was referring to, but the Tinkoff Saxo team is run by Bjarne Riis. He admitted doping during his career, including when he won the Tour de France in 1996, and has also been accused of tolerating the use of banned substances on his team in the past.
The team also includes several directeur sportifs who have been implicated in past doping, including Steven de Jongh plus new signings Bobby Julich and Patxi Vila. It also includes Sean Yates, who failed a test for steroids but was cleared when the B sample did not back up the A result.
The Briton went on to work with Lance Armstrong’s teams but claimed not to have seen any doping there. He left Sky at a time when the team was knuckling down on its zero tolerance policy in relation to past doping, although the team said then that he was simply retiring from working in the sport.
However he went on to work with the NFTO team in Britain and will now return to the WorldTour.
Tinkoff Saxo also includes riders who have been drawn into doping cases, including Alberto Contador and Roman Kreuziger. The latter will soon fight a UCI/WADA appeal to CAS against his clearing over biological passport irregularities.
Fuglsang raced for Riis’ team in 2009 and 2010.
The 29 year old explained his decision to sign for his current team. “When I went to Astana, I looked at what I can get out of it. Where can I get opportunities? What can I get to do, what is there in it for me in terms of the financial side?
“Last year in particular I had opportunities on Astana, including riding as a captain in the Tour de France, and it is something that I am almost sure that I could not have gotten at any other team. At least not one of the teams that I had offers from. That is actually what ensured that I went there.”
The team is set to face a review by the UCI’s Licence Commission after brothers Maxin and Valentin Iglinskiy and stagiaire Ilya Davidenok tested positive in recent weeks. Fuglsang accepts that there could be some doping on the team, but insists that he is not part of it.
“I know what I stand for. I will not have anything to do with doping, and I am strongly opposed to doping,” he said. “I know I can ride strongly without it.” He added that he hoped anyone using banned substances would be caught.
“We will probably never get it cleaned up 100 percent, but it is much, much better than it has been before and it continues to improve.”
Fuglsang earlier suggested he might leave the team if it loses its WorldTour licence, but also accepted that it would be difficult to find another squad at this late point in the season.