U.S. cyclist Tyler Hamilton was suspended from his professional team yesterday and put on notice that his contract would be invalidated if he is found guilty of the drug charges against him.
Hamilton, who faces the possible loss of the gold medal he won at the Athens Games in August along with a ban from his sport, proclaimed his innocence during a news conference Tuesday in Spain.
But Georges Luechinger, a spokesman for the Phonak cycling team, said the group had no choice but to suspend Hamilton as it awaits the result of confirmation testing from the International Olympic Committee and International Cycling Union (UCI).
The results are expected in the next day or two. Action from the IOC and UCI on the case is expected shortly thereafter.
"For the moment, we have to concentrate on the facts," Phonak team boss Andy Rihs said in a statement on the Phonak Web site. "These seem to speak against Tyler. But so long as we're not 100 percent certain that he's guilty of manipulation, we will believe him."
Blood tests administered during the Olympics in August and the Spanish Vuelta in September showed evidence of another person's blood in Hamilton's system, suggesting he had used blood transfusions in an attempt to build endurance and aid his performance, the IOC and UCI have informed Hamilton.
Hamilton, who trains and lives in Spain with a group of American cyclists, did not respond to an e-mail request to comment.
-- Amy Shipley