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Accused cyclist Fuglsang contests link to banned doctor

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Copenhagen (AFP)

Top cyclist Jakob Fuglsang took to social media on Monday to contest links to disgraced Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, in response to reports of an investigation into the Olympic road race silver medallist.

Reports in Denmark say the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) has detailed accounts of alleged links between the Danish cyclist and the banned doctor, but the International Cycling Union (UCI) says it has yet to see any report.

Fuglsang's team Astana has denied knowledge of the links, saying in a statement it "does not collaborate with any suspicious doctor, such as Dr Michele Ferrari."

The rider, who would be a contender for the Olympic road race title in Tokyo, or the Giro d'Italia in May, broke his silence via Instagram.

"I contest that I have met with Dr Ferrari. I am not aware of any report and I can confirm no procedure has even been opened by competent anti-doping authorities against me," he wrote.

"Accordingly I have no case to answer. I am extremely concerned that such rumours could be spread out in the press."

Earlier on Monday, former Danish cyclist Brian Holm said the reports into links between Fuglsang and Ferrari were rumours that had been circulating since "last spring."

"It's a story that has been around since last spring," Holm told newspaper Politiken, which published extracts from a report by the CADF over the weekend.

"When someone is really, really strong, rumours come up in cycling, that's always been the case, and these rumours have been here for a while," Holm added.

CADF is the body which deals with doping controls for the UCI.

Cycling's global governing body said Monday that it had not received the report.

- 'Idiots trying their luck' -

"The CADF... undertakes its investigations completely independently. Our Federation is following this case closely and will take the measures deemed appropriate in the interests of cycling," the UCI told AFP in an emailed statement.

Fuglsang, 34, who won the 2019 Criterium du Dauphine and Liege-Bastogne-Liege, recently extended his contract with Astana, despite dropping out of the Tour de France in the final week of the race.

Ferrari was banned for life by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for his relationship with the disgraced Lance Armstrong who was also kicked out of the sport and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after he admitted doping.

Ferrari also worked with 2012 Olympic champion Alexander Vinokourov who was suspended for two years in 2007 for blood doping. Vinokourov is Astana's sporting director.

According to Politiken, the report by CADF suggests that Ferrari had continued to help the riders in Astana.

He is alleged to have travelled to Monaco, where Fuglsang lives, and other venues such as the Tour of Catalonia to meet with riders.

"I haven't heard people talk about it on the team," Danish cyclist Magnus Cort, who competed for Astana in 2018 and 2019, told newspaper BT.

"I simply do not believe that takes place anymore. But of course there will always be idiots trying their luck," he continued.

Fuglsang's former trainer, Rune Larsen, who worked with Astana in 2018 said he was surprised by the allegations.

"During the many years I worked with Jakob, it was always with the mindset that we should reach as far as possible with legal tools, even if it meant that there was some things we could not achieve," Larsen told broadcaster DR.

Astana said it would "collaborate with any inquiry that could be opened by CADF or the UCI."

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