Astana accused of breaking WADA rules and French Law in Tour
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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Astana accused of breaking WADA rules and French Law in Tour

by VeloNation Press at 11:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping

Investigations into medical products seized during this year’s Tour de France have raised concerns that the Astana team of race winner Alberto Contador and seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong may have broken French laws and WADA rules during the race.

According to French newspaper Le Monde, a preliminary report by the assistant public prosecutor of Paris, Dominique Perard, said that infusion bags (drips) belonging to the team had been seized by the French Office for the Environment and Public Health.

A source close to the investigation has said that ‘the possession of infusion sets is itself a crime, under the Act of July 3, 2008. This French law relates to the fight against trafficking of doping products.

If confirmed, the practice would also violate a WADA ruling introduced in 2006 which banned the use of intravenous infusions unless there was a serious medical concern for the athlete in question.

Today’s report also claimed that syringes found in the hotel rooms used by the team had traces of ‘polypeptides’ in them. Further analysis is being done to determine if these traces could correspond to growth hormone.

According to the same source, "seven genetic profiles of different people" were found by the investigators, suggesting that it might be possible to carry out DNA matching and thus identify those in question.

This would depend on the co-operation of the UCI. However relations have been strained between French authorities and cycling’s governing body following the release of a report by the French anti-doping agency AFLD in October.

This report blasted the UCI on several grounds, including levering accusations that it had shown bias towards Astana during this year’s Tour.

An AFP source close to the French judicial investigation stressed that the initial inquiry by a Paris magistrates' court was in process, and said to suggest the equipment might constitute illegal activity now would be premature.

Neither the UCI nor the Astana team have responded to today’s news.

Other teams were also investigated in the preliminary enquiry but these have been cleared due to a lack of evidence of wrongdoing.

This isn't the first time the French have made claims against Lance Armstrong or his team. The American has been the subject of several investigations in France, including one into the US Postal Team in 2000. It was eventually dismissed due to a lack of evidence. Armstrong's supporters have been vocal about what they feel is French bias against the cycling icon, and will certainly take notice of this latest action.

The Texan has always denied the use of performance enhancing drugs.


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