Cycling-Kreuziger out of Tour over biological passport issues

By Julien Pretot

PARIS, June 28 (Reuters) - Alberto Contador lost a key team mate in his Tour de France challenge when Czech Roman Kreuziger was sidelined by Tinkoff-Saxo after possible irregularities emerged from his biological passport.

Tinkoff-Saxo said that the International Cycling Union (UCI) "is likely due to instigate disciplinary proceedings against (Kreuziger) arising from an alleged violation of its anti-doping rules due to abnormalities detected in his biological passport in 2011 and 2012."

The data in question is from a period when Kreuziger, fifth in last year's Tour, was riding for the Astana team.

Tinkoff-Saxo provided explanations to the UCI, Tinkoff-Saxo said, after seeking advice from an independent expert.

"Through our own medical staff and independent verification the team was satisfied that Roman's blood profile had valid medical and scientific explanations other than the use of doping methods or substances," said Tinkoff-Saxo.

"This was subsequently confirmed by the expert opinions Roman shared with the team."

The team, however, decided that Kreuziger would not ride until further details were made available.

"The team has decided, in agreement with Roman, that he will not ride in any races including this year's Tour de France until more information becomes available to the team," the statement added.

"Though he won't be racing for now, until more information becomes available to the team it will not provisionally suspend Roman unless required by the UCI or the Czech Federation."

The Tour de France starts on July 5 with twice-winner Contador expected to be the main challenger to last year's champion Chris Froome. (Reporting by Julien Pretot; editing by Justin Palmer)