Team Astana are being investigated regarding a “penal infraction” relating to blood transfusion equipment seized from the team during the 2009 Tour de France according to a report on the Le Monde website.
The race was won by Astana rider Alberto Contador, with Lance Armstrong – then riding for Astana - coming third.
Le Monde quote a source from the Parisian Public Prosecutor's office as saying that the preliminary conclusions of the investigation by the anti-drug police from the Central Office against Environmental Damage and Public Health (OCLAESP) into various medical equipment and waste generated by a number of teams at this year's Tour will now focus on Astana.
According to Le Monde, blood transfusion equipment was seized by the French equivalent of the drugs squad from the Kazakh team during this year's race – possession of such equipment is in itself a criminal offence in France. Such equipment is also on the World Anti Doping Agency's banned list.
However, the bad news for Astana doesn't end there. According to Le Monde, tests are now being carried out to see if traces of growth hormone can be found on some of the syringes seized. If such substances are found to be present the consequences for the Kazakh team could be dire indeed and Alberto Contador could find himself unable to defend a Tour win for the second time.
But there is another however, which is that reports in the French media of drugs related infractions particularly involving teams managed by Johan Bruyneel have often in the past proved unfounded.
As we reported in October an official investigation was already underway in France into some of the medical waste generated by the teams in this year's race, some of which was being examined by a forensics lab. Astana were at that time identified by the French media as being at the centre of the investigation, something which was vigourously denied by the team.
The investigation itself was met with puzzlement by some observers because it was pointed out that the team's waste was 'official' waste handed over to the Tour organisers for disposal and possible testing as a matter of routine by the participating teams. According to Le Monde, insufficient evidence was found amongst the samples from other teams analysed by the investigation.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.