Suspension reports denied
BMC Racing and Garmin-Sharp have denied reports that riders on their teams have been suspended for six months.
The bans were said to have been imposed in exchange for giving evidence in the current doping case against Lance Armstrong.
It had been reported that the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) had given out bans suspended until the end of the season in return for providing testimony in the case.
The riders reported to have been involved were Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie of Garmin-Sharp, George Hincapie of BMC Racing and Levi Leipheimer of Omega Pharma-Quickstep - all former team-mates of the seven-time Tour de France winner.
But Garmin-Sharp team boss Jonathan Vaughters, also a former colleague of Armstrong, denied that any suspensions had been handed out to his riders.
He wrote on Twitter: "Regarding the Dutch media report: No 6mos suspensions have been given to any member of Slipstream Sports. Today or at any future date."
A Slipstream Sports statement added: "We can confirm that our Tour team is entirely focused on the Tour and media reports of suspensions are untrue.
"As we have always said, we expect that anyone in our organisation who is contacted by any anti-doping or government authority will be open and honest with that authority, but, at this moment, we - our organisation, our riders and our staff - are focused on the Tour de France."
BMC Racing also said that they had not received any notice that Hincapie had received a suspension.
"We've not received any notification from any authority about this issue at all. Therefore, we have no comment," team president Jim Ochowicz said.
"George is here to race the Tour de France. That's what he's doing."
Hincapie added: "I'm just disappointed with this thing being brought up once again. I feel like I've always done the right thing for the sport.
"Right now I'm here to do my job and I'll try to focus on that. BMC's got nothing to do with this. (Team-mate) Cadel's (Evans) focus is to try to win the Tour and I'm here to help him do that.
"I'll continue to do that and try not to let anything get in my mind besides that."
Responding to the reports, a spokesperson for the International Cycling Union (UCI) said that they have, as of yet, received no word from USADA in light of the reports.
"UCI has requested that USADA provide information on what has been reported in the media," a spokesman said.
"So far UCI has received no answer from USADA on the matter. At this stage it's just hearsay and we are unable to comment further."
USADA chief executive Travis T Tygart criticised the speculation surrounding the case and insisted nothing has been determined.
Tygart said in a statement: "USADA's investigation into doping in the sport of cycling continues.
"No individual cases have been finalised, and any attempt to guess at whom potential witnesses might be only leads to inaccurate information being reported and subjects those named to unnecessary scrutiny, threats and intimidation.
"It is important to remember that the truth would often be suppressed without witnesses who at great cost to themselves are willing to tell the truth under oath about what they saw and experienced, and any attempt to circumvent the proper procedures in order to bully or silence people who may or may not be witnesses cannot be tolerated."
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