Tour de France asks Spaniards involved into doping scandal to pull out of race

The team's absence would likely push one of the leading contenders, Alexandre Vinokourov, out of the race, which starts Saturday.

Instead of responding directly to the request, the team asked the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland to consider the case and rule on whether the team had the right to take part, Desplats said.

The tribunal should make its decision Wednesday or Thursday, probably leaving too little time for Astana-Wurth cyclists to change teams if their squad is forced out, he said.

A growing investigation into alleged blood doping in Spain has led to many arrests, including that of Manolo Saiz, the former top official at Liberty Seguros. Saiz was later released, and he denies involvement in doping, according to the AP.

Liberty Seguros withdrew its team sponsorship shortly after the police seizure. Astana-Wurth took over the team and announced Saiz's resignation this month.

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