Tour de France: Team cars searched for doping products
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tour de France: Team cars searched for doping products

by Shane Stokes at 1:28 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
French police respond to Wim Vansevenant’s customs seizure

In the wake of news that former professional Wim Vansevenant has been implicated in an alleged importation of illegal substances from Australia, French police are reported as carrying out searches of team cars in France.

According to De Telegraaf, cars at a highway toll station 100 kilometres north of Nantes are being stopped and examined by police. This is as the result of the discovery that Vansevenant had apparently had a product called TB-500 sent to him from Australia. A package was intercepted at the Belgian airport Zaventem.

Vanseveant competed for the Predictor-Lotto team for many years, retiring in 2008. He was due to work for the team – now called Omega Pharma Lotto - again during the Tour, transporting VIP guests in one of five coaches. Earlier reports suggested that the package was intercepted two weeks ago, and that the police have been working since then on the case.

The team has denied any involvement, with various officials saying that they are ‘shocked.’ Omega Pharma Lotto includes one of the biggest GC riders, Jurgen Van Den Broeck, as well as stage hunters Philippe Gilbert and Andre Greipel. At this point in time, there is no suggestion that they have been involved in wrongdoing.

The product TB-500 has been used on animals, and is thought to have figured in horse racing.

"Timosine, which TB-500 is based on, improves exercise capacity in mice by twenty percent,” said sports Doctor Chris Goossens to Het Nieuwsblad today. “But testing in humans have not been able to confirm that.”

“The product itself is not known to me, but it is based on timosine. This is a peptide hormone. The tests showed an improvement in exercise capacity, but that was not confirmed in tests on humans. It may have the effect only in extreme doses. It can certainly be dangerous because it can promote tumor growth, "said the doctor yet.

Vansevenant has reportedly admitted to ordering the product but claimed that it was for his personal use only, and that he didn’t realise it was doping. Goossens does not find the explanation to be a credible one. “Someone who was in the cycling world for so long should know whether something is or is not doping. It does not matter for whom it is intended,” he said. “That it is not explicitly stated on the WADA list of banned products is not an argument. It is the class of peptide hormones, which are definitely prohibited.”

Vansevenant’s actions have ensured that the Tour de France is once again in the limelight for the wrong reasons.


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