FFC president says Longo can ride Olympic Games if she qualifies
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Thursday, May 31, 2012

FFC president says Longo can ride Olympic Games if she qualifies

by Shane Stokes at 5:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Lappartient admits questions exist, AFLD says rider has not been tested this year

Jeannie LongoAlthough a question mark has hung over her career since her husband and coach Patrice Ciprelli was embroiled in a scandal involving the apparent online purchase of EPO, French cycling federation (FFC) president David Lappartient has said he is unopposed to Jeannie Longo’s possible participation in the Olympic Games.

Lappartient made the statement despite also saying that it is important to find out who Ciprelli purchased the banned substance for.

“As you know, there are criteria for selection for the Olympic Games, it is very standardized. So if Longo achieves these legal criteria, then there is no reason to oppose her selection,” he told Velo101.com.

“Today, in terms of what we have seen since the beginning of the season, there are rather young competitors who are riding well, but at the championship of France, particularly against the clock, there are things that can be played out [in terms of selection].

"There are defined and understood selection criteria that we put ourselves forward to the National Commission for elite level sport, but it's the Olympic committee and the ministry that chooses in strict compliance with the criteria that they have defined."

Lappartient conceded that in recent seasons, Longo has been absent from racing for much of the season, resurfacing for the French championships and the world championships. Some have questioned this, in that she has been able to be in winning form despite not racing. She has also not undergone out of competition testing in that period; last year it emerged that she had three whereabouts violations against her name.

However she was ultimately not sanctioned as the French anti-doping agency AFLD had not followed a French law passed on 14th April 2010. Under the new rules, athletes had to be officially informed they were part of the testing pool by the AFLD, and that this needed to be renewed annually; Longo’s lawyers successfully argued that while she was included in the target group two years earlier, she was never officially informed she was part of it after the law was introduced.

Ciprelli was arrested in February over purchases of EPO. According to L’Equipe, police had determined that he broke French law about the importation of dangerous substances on several occasions, including at least twice in 2010 and three last year.

The last of these purchases dates to May 2011, weeks before Longo took yet another French time trial championship. She denies using banned substances.

While saying that she has a right to be considered for the Olympic Games, Lappartient also concedes that questions have been raised about her career. “It is true that the Longo affair has touched one of the emblematic athletes of French sport,” he said. “People do not know what to think of this case since currently there is no charge against Jeannie Longo, it is on her husband who the charges rest. But of course everyone wants to know who the EPO acquired by Patrice Ciprelli was destined for. We all need to have an answer.”

In the meantime, though, the FFC appears open to the possibility that she will be its representative in London 2012.

Despite the saga, the AFLD recently admitted that she had not been subject to out of competition testing this year. According to RMCsport.fr, the AFLD said that her lawyers had contested her eligibility for the AFLD testing pool, claiming that she was already followed by the UCI. This was determined not to be the case, but it caused further delays.

While she officially became part of the AFLD’s testing pool on April 6th, she is yet to be tested. Under its rules, a sportsperson has two months to indicate their whereabouts; Longo has therefore until June 6th to comply, meaning that she is not liable to out of competition controls until then. Essentially, while other French athletes are open to regular testing, one whose husband and coach is facing charges for importing EPO has not been dope tested for a considerable length of time.

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