French court launches enquiry into Ciprelli-Longo doping allegations, seeks to determine truth of matter
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Friday, September 16, 2011

French court launches enquiry into Ciprelli-Longo doping allegations, seeks to determine truth of matter

by Shane Stokes at 4:57 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Investigation aiming to discover if EPO or other banned substances were bought

Jeannie LongoQuestions continue being asked of Patrice Ciprelli, husband and coach of the legendary French rider Jeannie Longo, and of the rider herself. In Grenoble a court has confirmed that it has opened up an enquiry into the alleged purchase and importation of EPO by Ciprelli, which was accused by former US Pro and self-confessed former drug supplier Joe Papp.

Responding to questions after Longo was last week declared to have thrice violated cycling’s whereabouts regulations, Papp indicted to VeloNation last Friday that he may have provided EPO to either the rider or her coach. L’Equipe followed this in an article on Tuesday, speaking at length to the American.Papp told the French newspaper that Ciprelli had ordered the substance in 2007, telling him that it was for his wife’s use.

This led to his suspension by the French cycling federation that same day, although the FFC said that it wouldn’t suspend Longo unless the AFLD made official its complaint over the whereabouts violations.

Her lawyers declared on Wednesday that she had decided not to travel to next week’s world road race championships due to the physical and mental stress she was under. The national title holder had been due to represent France there. They said that she was "greatly affected by unfair accusations against her."

According to AFP, a member of a court in Grenoble stated today that a judicial enquiry would look into “the circumstances under which the eventual purchase of doping products by her (Longo’s) husband and those who could have participated in it took place.”

While the three year statute of limitations prevents any criminal action over the alleged 2007 purchase, the enquiry will see to determine if “there was an eventual regular importation of doping products.” Should these be proven and if any more recent incidents fall within that three year legal timeframe, charges could potentially be brought.

At this point in time, Longo is only indirectly linked to the Papp allegations. The judicial enquiry plus an expected disciplinary process by the French federation will presumably seek to determine if she used the banned products.

She is a 59 time national champion and former world champion, and won the women’s Tour de France three times. Despite being 52 years of age, she remains highly competitive. The weeks and months ahead will seek to determine if that lingering dominance is due to national talent and tenacity, or to something altogether different.

Regardless of the Ciprelli investigation, though, the three whereabouts violations could in themselves bring a lengthy suspension.


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