Government 'denies' soccer, tennis involvement

Updated: July 4, 2006, 10:47 AM ET
Associated Press

MADRID, Spain -- The Spanish government says no soccer or tennis players are involved in the doping investigation that already has forced several top cyclists to withdraw from the Tour de France.

The Higher Sports Council, which oversees sports in Spain, said Tuesday it "categorically denies involvement by soccer players or tennis players, either Spanish or foreign" in the Civil Guard investigation.

The council called a French newspaper report "lamentable" and groundless for saying soccer players and a tennis player were involved.

The French newspaper Journal du Dimanche ran a story Sunday loosely linking Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal to the investigation and said athletes from other sports could be involved. Nadal, the French Open champion who has advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals, derided the report.

"I've never taken anything in my life, and I never will. ... People who write lies about other people are bad people," Nadal said Monday.

The scandal broke in May after police in Spain led arrests and raids, seizing drugs and frozen blood thought to have been prepared for performance-enhancing transfusions.

Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich and other riders were excluded from the Tour de France after their names were among dozens on a list compiled by Spanish investigators. Basso and Ullrich say they are innocent.

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press