This is an archived article that was published on in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Rowland Hall graduate Levi Leipheimer, expected to be one of the favorites in the 2008 Tour de France, won't get a chance to contend for cycling's most distinguished yellow jersey.

Leipheimer's team, Astana, won't be invited to participate in the race according to officials at Amaury Sport Organization, the company that owns the race.

ASO released a statement that said the team wouldn't be invited because of the "damage caused by this team to the Tour de France and cycling in general."

The team quit the race last year after its favorite, Alexandre Vinokourov, tested positive for a blood transfusion and in 2006 couldn't field the minimum six cyclists required to race after five riders were banned from racing because they were linked to the drug scandal known as Operation Puerto.

One of those racers was Alberto Contador, who won the race last year as a member of the Discovery Channel.

Also included on that Discovery team and now the revamped Astana is Leipheimer, who finished third last year, and manager Johan Bruyneel, who guided Lance Armstrong to seven straight Tour de France wins.

Leipheimer's coach, Max Testa, who is on staff at The Orthopedic Specialty Hospital in Murray, said he hasn't talked to Leipheimer.

"I found out today at work the news," he said Tuesday. "But it definitely doesn't sit well. Astana is a good new team and for them to take out Leipheimer, who was third, and Contador, the winner, they are taking a lot of interest away from the race."

Tour director Christian Prudhomme denied that Contador was the focal point of the Astana ban.

''We don't part with the winner of the Tour for the fun of it, but it is the team he chose,'' Prudhomme said. ''Contador was in no way targeted.''

Leipheimer told the Web site VeloNews he wouldn't comment on the announcement until Saturday at a press conference for the Tour of California, which begins Sunday.

Testa hopes organizers change their mind and extend an invitation to Astana.

The Associated Press contributed to this article