Jeannie Longo’s husband Patrice Ciprelli arrested over suspected importation of EPO
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Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Jeannie Longo’s husband Patrice Ciprelli arrested over suspected importation of EPO

by Shane Stokes at 4:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Multiple French champion named as a witness, back under scrutiny

Jeannie LongoThe career of multiple world and French champion Jeannie Longo is once again under a shadow after her husband and coach Patrice Ciprelli was arrested this morning at their home in Saint-Martin-le-Vinoux (Isère). Ten officers from the French Office Central de Lutte contre les Atteintes à l'Environnement et à la Santé Publique/central office for the fight against environmental damage and for public health (OCLAESP) raided their home as part of a preliminary inquiry opened on September 14th by the prosecutor in Grenoble.

According to l’Equipe, which broke the story, 53 year old Longo will be heard as a witness.

Last September Longo was confirmed as having three whereabouts violations, leaving her open to a possible lengthy ban. That news was followed by accusations against Longo and Ciprelli from the former pro Joe Papp, who said that he was involved in the sale of EPO to the latter. He claimed that the Frenchman had told him the product was intended for his wife’s usage.

Longo withdrew from the French team for the world championships after Ciprelli was suspended by the French cycling federation (FFC). He later had his licence re-activated after the Adminstrative Tribunal in Grenbole expressed “serious doubts” about the legality of the decision to sideline him. The FFC was also ordered to pay 500 euros to him to help cover the court costs.

Things appeared to be winding down when on December 1st, FFC president David Lappartient indicated that the federation would drop Longo’s anti-doping case. It emerged that a change in French law meant that riders had to be informed each year that they are part of the testing pool, and the failure to do so meant that Longo was not actually under obligation to perform out of competition tests.

French anti-doping agency AFLD had a chance to appeal that, but on December 15th it said that it could not. “At the time of the third infringement which was found against the defendant, she had ceased to belong to the target group due to the effect of a limitation to one year of such membership,” it said.

New developments plunge duo back under spotlight:

According to L’Equipe, police have determined that Ciprelli made further purchases of EPO, at least two in 2010 and three last year, breaking French law about the importation of dangerous substances. Two invoices totalling approximately 500 euros have been obtained by police in relation to the 2011 purchases, identifying the substance as Eprex, a brand of EPO, and implicating Ciprelli via his bank account.

The last of these purchases dates to May 2011, weeks before Longo took yet another French time trial championship. While she is a witness at this point in time, it seems inevitable that she may face sporting sanctions.

According to L’Equipe, several people have given statements in the matter. These include Longo’s former rival Edwige Pittel, who was coached by Ciprelli in the past and also had an affair with him. She has apparently been cleared of wrongdoing. AFLD president and secretary general Bruno Genevois and Robert Bertrand have been interviewed, as has Alain Dallenbach, former husband of the athlete Chantal Dallenbach. Longo was a witness at their wedding.

Michel Lucatelli, the director of the French cross country ski team is apparently in hot water. A strong friend of Ciprelli, he is said to have collected a parcel for Longo’s husband. The latter’s mother could also be asked to give evidence as her address was used for the 2007 transaction with Joe Papp.

VeloNation has spoken to a former competitor of Longo, who said that there have been questions for some time. “I don’t think any of this surprises the peloton,” she said. “I’ve never had a doubt…not because of her age, but because of her behaviour and the change in her physique from 1989 onwards.”

During a long career, Longo has racked up a huge list of success. These include three editions of the women’s Tour de France, gold and silver medals in Olympic Road race plus silver and bronze in Olympic time trial. She also took nine road world championship titles (five in the road race, four in the TT), four track world championship titles (pursuit and points races), as well as three silvers and three bronze medals. Her palmares includes multiple French titles, including eleven gold medals in the time trial. Despite her age, she has been French TT champion for the past four years and is aiming to compete in the London Olympics.
 

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