A British cycling fan who retrieved a vial of pills from the roadside during Paris-Roubaix will today pass it to UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) for analysis – and says he has pictures that show it falling from the jersey pocket of an unnamed rider as he crashed, reports Telegraph.co.uk.
The fan who found the vial, Mike Brampton, is managing director of a veterinary equipment supplier based in West Sussex, Thames Medical, which tweeted a picture of the vial from its account on Tuesday.
— Thames Medical Ltd (@ThamesMedical) April 15, 2014
Yesterday, he received a reply from UCI president Brian Cookson.
— Brian Cookson OBE (@BrianCooksonUCI) April 16, 2014
The crash happened around halfway through the race, won by Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Niki Terpstra, although Mr Brampton isn’t saying exactly where it happened, nor the identity of the rider involved. He told Telegraph.co.uk he would give that information to UKAD, however.
“Basically the crash happened and then they all got up and the soigneur pushed the rider away,” he explained. “I’d already spotted the vial, as had others. It was actually pointed out to the soigneur who sort of shrugged his shoulders as if to say ‘nothing to do with me’.
“I’d rather not say who was involved or where exactly it happened but it was roughly halfway through the race between cobbled sections, not on a cobbled section itself.
“It will absolutely be possible to pinpoint who the vial belongs to. I have 34 in-sequence photographs from about 15ft away, pin sharp. In one of them you can actually see the vial falling from the rider’s pocket.
"Though there is one shot missing which is of me picking up the vial – that is because the voiture balai [broom wagon] was about to run me over and obscured the shot.”
As Telegraph.co.uk points out, there is nothing to suggest that the vial contains anything illegal, although cycling’s history of doping does mean that such a discovery is likely to lead people to think the worst.
Mr Brampton himself is hopeful that there will be an innocent explanation. “Whatever it is, it’s official,” he said. “There was a torn bar code on it.
“I’ve spoken to UKAD twice today and they are taking it very seriously. They are sending someone down tomorrow so they can bag it, seal it and have it tested. But I’m sure it’s nothing sinister. Well, I’d like to think not.
"Some people have been critical of my decision to make this public but my genuine hope, as I’m sure it is of most cycling fans, is that it turns out to be absolutely nothing and the powder is something like magnesium or beta-Alanine or something else not on the banned list,” he added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.