Dubai: The UCI, the world governing body for cycling, has welcomed the launch of a criminal investigation into alleged doping during this year’s Tour de France that concluded on Sunday in Paris.
Making his Tour debut, UAE Team Emirates rider Tadej Pogacar – who turned 22 on Monday – won the 2020 race to become the second youngest Tour de France champion in history. Pogacar timed a stunning last-gasp time trial win on the penultimate Stage 20 on Saturday to overhaul long-term race leader and fellow Slovenian Primoz Roglic to claim the yellow jersey.
However, a day after the race, Marseille state prosecutor Dominique Laurens confirmed that a criminal investigation had been launched into alleged doping during this year’s Tour de France, with a doctor and physiotherapist reportedly in police custody.
Laurens further confirmed that an investigation is underway, and the UCI had “welcomed” the inquiry. “The UCI confirms that it has been in communication with the OCLAESP and the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation as part of the legal operations carried out by the French authorities on the sidelines of the Tour de France,” a statement from the UCI said.
“The UCI welcomes and supports the action of all parties involved and will take the appropriate measures once it has taken note of the information obtained by the French legal authorities,” the statement added.
The investigation concerns the Arkéa-Samsic team after the French newspaper ‘Le Parisien’ had claimed that a doctor and a physiotherapist had been detained by police for questioning.
Arkéa-Samsic’s leading rider, Nairo Quintana, was among those to have his hotel room searched in a police raid last week heading into the final stages of the race. The search had been conducted by officers of the Central Office for the Fight against Environmental and Public Health Damage (OCLAESP), and early reports suggested that saline and injection equipment had been found.
Laurens further informed that the search had yielded the “discovery of many health products including drugs... and especially a method that can be qualified as doping”.
Colombian rider Quintana has won two Grand Tours so far - the 2014 Giro d’Italia and the 2016 Vuelta a España, while finishing as runner-up twice before in the Tour de France. He finished 17th overall last Sunday.