Bassons fully cleared by AFLD in relation to missed anti-doping test at mountain bike race
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Friday, May 3, 2013

Bassons fully cleared by AFLD in relation to missed anti-doping test at mountain bike race

by Shane Stokes at 7:31 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Reputation restored after battle

AFLDFormer Tour de France rider Christophe Bassons, who came to prominence when he was essentially bullied out of the 1999 Tour de France after writing about ongoing doping in the sport, has won his battle against a suspension handed to him last year.

The 38 year old rider was handed a one year ban in October, just over a month after he missed a post-race control in the French mountain bike marathon championships on September 1st.

In December he explained the circumstances of the situation, giving details about how the missed test occurred.

"At 25 kilometers from the finish, I was hypoglycemic, I missed the last refuelling point and had nothing to eat,” he told LeMonde. “As I had ridden the last twenty kilometers the previous day, I remembered that my car was not parked far from there, so I decided to leave.”

He said that two hours later he received a phone call to say that he had been selected for a post-race doping control and that he had half an hour to return for the test. “I was already too far away,” he said. “The communication was going badly and the person on the phone never heard my answer. I stopped on the highway, and I called back with my professional phone because my personal one didn’t have any battery left. However I was never able to reach him.”

Bassons appealed his one year ban and although that was reduced by the French cycling federation in December to just one month, he fought on. He said that he needed to clear his reputation, particularly as he had long been perceived as anti-doping.

“For 15 years, people said to me ‘well done’ but neither the sports ministry nor the AFLD [the French Agency for the Fight against Doping] have lifted a finger in this case.

“The federation may have reduced the sentence from one year to one month, but on principle this sanction remains completely absurd,” he continued. “I will make an appeal to the administrative court and will counter attack.”

Yesterday French newspaper L’Equipe confirmed that the AFLD had completely exonerated him. It said that a requirement for a written notice of summons to a control had not been respected, and as a result the AFLD had cleared him.

Bassons competed as a professional between 1996 and 2001. He was part of the notorious Festina team between 1996 and 1998, but was identified by many on the team as being the one rider who refused to take any banned substances.

During the 1999 Tour de France he wrote in Le Parisien about what he felt was an ongoing doping problem in the sport, and was pressurised to leave the race by Armstrong and others.

Last year, Bassons told the BBC spoke about his run-in with Armstrong. “He grabbed my by the shoulder, because he knew that everyone would be watching, and he knew that at that moment, he could show everyone that he was the boss. He stopped me, and he said what I was saying wasn't true. What I was saying was bad for cycling, that I mustn't say it, that I had no right to be a professional cyclist, that I should quit cycling, that I should quit the Tour.”

Bassons finally gave in and left the event. He was marginalised by the peloton and he retired at just 27 years of age.

Now, following the latest decision on his case, his reputation has been fully restored.


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