Two in custody in Tour de France doping probe: Marseille prosecutor

Carrie Guzman
September 25, 2020

French police have released two people who were being questioned as part of an investigation into suspected doping by the Arkea-Samsic team at this year's Tour de France.

Quintana, who had three times finished on the podium in previous Tours, suffered a crash on stage 13 of this year's race and then cracked on the Grand Colombier two days later, fading to finish 17th.

Rookie Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia, who rides for UAE Team Emirates, won the Tour on Monday The best-placed rider from Arkea-Samsic was Frenchman Warren Barguil in 14th place.

World governing body the UCI said it had been in contact with the police service which is leading the investigation as well as the Cycling Anti-Doping Federation and would offer its support.

It is the most significant investigation in years for the repeatedly scandal-hit Tour, which wrapped up Sunday in Paris with a surprise victory for 21-year-old Slovenian debutant Pogacar, the youngest victor in more than a century.

A source familiar with the matter told AFP that searches had targeted several riders including Quintana's brother Dayer, as well as members of the medical team.

Dominique Laurens said in a statement that the probe was targeting a "small part of the team" and that those in custody were part of the "close entourage of the main rider".

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The newspaper says however that the team itself and its staff were not the principal targets of the raid, but rather its leader, Quintana.

Many had predicted the Covid-19 pandemic would prevent the riders making it the 3,400 kilometres (2,100 miles) from the Mediterranean city of Nice to the French capital.

Prosecutor Laurens added that the investigation focused on the "prescription to an athlete without medical justification of a prohibited substance or method within the framework of a sports event, aid in the use and encouragement to use a substance or method prohibited to athletes, transport and possession of substance or method prohibited for use by an athlete without medical justification".

Arkea-Samsic have thrown their support behind those involved, but will not hesitate to act if the doping charges - which can result in up to five years in jail and a €75,000 (S$119,800) fine - are proven.

The final stage of the 2020 Tour de France.

Most notoriously, U.S. star rider Lance Armstrong, who won from 1999-2005, admitted doping in 2013 and was stripped of his record seven titles.

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