Tour’s Bahrain Victorious targeted by anti-doping investigation

PAU, France, July 15 (Reuters) – French prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into doping allegations against the Tour de France Bahrain Victorious cycling team after police raided the team’s accommodation and bus on Wednesday after the 17th stage of the race.

The prosecution of the port city of Marseille specified that the investigation related to “the acquisition, transport, possession, importation of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method for the use of an athlete without medical justification “.

Bahrain Victorious said in a previous statement: “On the eve of stage 18 of the Tour de France, the Bahrain Victorious team was investigated by French police.

“The team was followed by a certain number of officers following their arrival after stage 17 at the hotel des teams in Pau.

“The investigation involved a search of the riders’ rooms as part of the process. While not knowing the reasons for the investigation, the team was also asked to provide any training records that were compiled. and presented to agents as requested “,

The technical director of the team Vladimir Miholjevic added: “After stage 17, we were greeted by several French police officers. We did not receive a reading warrant, but the team responded to all police inquiries.

The search was carried out by agents of the Central Office for the Fight against Threats to the Environment and Public Health of the National Gendarmerie of France (OCLAESP) amid suspicion of doping since last year, told Reuters a police source.

‘NOTHING TO HIDE’

Slovenian rider Matej Mohoric said the team had nothing to hide as they were set to start Thursday’s 18th stage, a 129.76km mountain race from Pau to Luz Ardiden in the French Pyrenees.

“It was like 50 of them (police). They searched all my things and I said yes I have nothing to hide, I don’t care,” he told reporters. .

“They went through all the phones, the personal messages … they checked all our things, all the buses, all the cars but, of course, they couldn’t find anything because we have nothing to hide.”

His teammate, Italian champion Sonny Colbrelli, said the riders had little time to recover after a grueling mountain stage on Wednesday.

“They searched all the rooms, the gendarmes (police) were good, just doing their job. They put everything back in the condition they found it in an orderly manner,” he said.

“We are fine, a little nervous because these are not big things for cycling because these are the last days of the Tour, yesterday was a difficult stage and we could not sleep until 2:30 pm to 3:00 pm, and then that morning, we got up early again. “

Bahrain Victorious won two stages of this year’s Tour de France thanks to Mohoric and Belgian Dylan Teuns, while Dutchman Wout Poels leads the mountain standings.

Their best-ranked rider in the overall standings is Spaniard Peio Bilbao in 10th place, 12.53 seconds behind defending champion Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia.

“We are committed to (the) highest level of professionalism and compliance with all regulatory requirements and will always cooperate in a professional manner,” the team statement added.

“The process had an impact on the recovery and meal planning of our runners and as a professional team the well-being of our team is a key priority.”

Report by Julien Pretot; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Ken Ferris

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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