Dutch cycling outfit Team Blanco -- formerly known as Rabobank -- has suspended its Spanish cyclist Luis León Sánchez Gil while it carries out an investigation into his alleged links to the Operation Puerto doping case.
According to news reports, the name of the Murcian rider is among those on the list of recipients of blood transfusions from Eufemiano Fuentes, the key suspect in the Puerto trial, which began last week.
The 29-year-old, who is one of the best Spanish riders of recent years and the winner of several stages of the Tour de France, was reportedly known as number 26 and by the nickname of Huerta (Garden), according to the transcripts of phone conversations tapped by Civil Guard officers working on the Puerto case.
A Civil Guard document details an exchange from May 15, 2006, when Sánchez was 22 and racing with Liberty, one of the cycling teams hit by the investigation, reads: "At 18.29 hours Fuentes and [Comunidad Valenciana sporting director José Ignacio] Labarta hold a conversation where he tells Fuentes that the guy from the garden has called him, identifying him as Luis León Sánchez..."
Sánchez's situation started to become untenable a few months ago, just after he renewed his contract with the team for three years and 2.4 million euros and Rabobank withdrew its sponsorship. Sánchez joined the team from Caisse d'Épargne in 2011.