Well surprise surprise, after seeing their cycling hero – Richard Virenque – disgraced and dragged through the courts over the past weeeks, finally admitting he’d been doping for 7 years the French are now gunning for all-American hero Armstrong.
French newspaper Le Monde, “Le Canard Enchaine” magazine and French TV station “France 3” all reported that the US Postal Services Team were under investigation for drug misuse.
The allegations come from France 3 who allegedly videod “suspicious activity” involving plastic medical packs around a “large German registered estate car”
“Le Canard” went on to claim that the drug involved was a Norwegian medicine Actovegin. Actovegin is a gel derived from calves blood and is used to treat arterial deficiency and weak blood flow, but it is not on the curent list of UCI banned substances.
USPS have been quick to deny any allegations about doping or even that they are under investigation.
“I was there the whole Tour,” team spokesman Dan Osipow said. “There were no mysterious cars coming or going to our hotel. That sort of thing is just pure speculation.” “Certainly we categorically deny any use of doping products.”
Osipow said that news of the investigation was a complete surprise on Tuesday morning.
“You’d think that if there had been an investigation going on for three weeks now, the investigators would be professional enough to contact those under investigation,”.
The team manager Mark Gorski followed this statement up with an official press release;
“Today, the management of the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team learned from a French news agency report that a preliminary inquiry has been opened by French authorities concerning our conduct at the 2000 Tour de France.
I have discussed this matter with our team’s Director Sportif Johan Bruyneel and the team’s medical staff and am absolutely convinced that there were no improprieties. If there is an official inquiry, we are confident that it will find that the team was in full compliance with the strict guidelines set forth by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).
We continue to adhere to a zero-tolerance policy concerning the use of substances banned by the UCI.”
USPS have certainly been extremely clear in their “zero tolerance” policy so far immeadiately firing team rider Benoît Joachim after he tested positive for the banned steroid Nandrolone. However cynics will note Gorski’s statement only declares zero tolerance on UCI banned substances – which as we’ve said does not include Actovegin.
With the ‘cancer conqueror’ Armstrong one of the greatest sporting heroes of America any further developments will be headline news, but we’ll make sure you hear about them here first.