Jeannie Longo withdraws from French team for world road race championships
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jeannie Longo withdraws from French team for world road race championships

by VeloNation Press at 12:30 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping, World Championships
 
Rider under fire due to out of competition testing violations and accusations against husband

Jeannie LongoUnder pressure after three ‘whereabouts’ violations plus the news that her husband and coach Patrice Ciprelli is suspected of buying EPO in 2007, multiple French champion Jeannie Longo has taken the decision not to compete in this year’s world road race championships later this month.

The 52 year old was expected to be pulled by the French federation once a complaint against her by the French anti-doping agency was made official. The FFC said yesterday that until that complaint was lodged, Longo remained selected for the time trial event at the worlds. It added that the AFLD was expected to act later this week.

Her lawyers Bruno Ravaz and Pierre Albert today issued a statement confirming her decision to stay at home.

“Jeannie Longo, who is greatly affected by unfair accusations made against her, is not in a physical or mental condition to defend her chances at the highest level,” they said today, according to Reuters. “As a consequence, she will not take part in the world championships.”

The championships take place next week in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The French federation FFC commented on the news in the past few minutes, saying that it was the best solution for the whole team. “The French Cycling Federation takes note of this voluntary retraction and non-participation of Ms. Jeannie Longo in the world championships,” it stated.

“The FFC welcomes this important decision which is intended to allow the French team to dispute the world championships in the best possible conditions, in order to ensure that its representatives have all the sporting peace necessary with regards to their participation in a sports event of great importance for French cycling.”

Longo has had a long and successful career, winning 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. Her palmares also includes 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, plus multiple French national titles.

According to the details of her whereabouts violations, she missed two tests and failed to provide her location on one occasion. Strict rules exist in cycling in relation to this matter as it is crucial to out of competition testing. Under WADA and UCI rules, three whereabouts violations are regarded of similar gravity as a positive test, making it possible that she could face a ban of up to two years.

More serious is the suggestion that her husband and coach Patrice Ciprelli could have bought EPO. Former US pro Joe Papp told VeloNation on Friday that it was possible he could be called to give evidence in a process against her due to his selling of EPO to riders, and he elaborated on this to l’Equipe yesterday.

He said that Ciprelli ordered the banned drug from him four years ago and said it was for his wife’s use. Both Ciprelli and Longo deny the claims, and say that over her career she has been the most tested rider in cycling.

The FFC is looking into the EPO allegation and has provisionally suspended Ciprelli pending the outcome of that enquiry.

The FFC has not yet announced who will replace Longo on the team.

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