French police arrest Jeannie Longo's husband in investigation into online EPO purchases
Couple's homes searched in dawn raid, L'Equipe says development may harm Longo's London 2012 hopes
French police this morning arrested Patrice Ciprelli, the husband and coach of former world and Olympic cyclist Jeannie Longo, on suspicion of having bought doping products including EPO over the internet.
L’Equipe reports that a dozen officers from an arm of the French police responsible for environmental and public health raided the couple’s apartment at Alpe d’Huez at 6.10am this morning. Longo herself was interviewed by police but not detained.
A separate police search was reportedly conducted at a chalet owned by the couple in Saint-Martin-le-Vinoux in the Isère department.
The newspaper reports that police operation relates to an enquiry launched in September last year following revelations by American former pro cyclist Joe Papp that he had sold Ciprelli EPO sourced from China.
According to L’Equipe, police are investigating five alleged purchases of EPO by Ciprelli during 2010 and 2011, and have gathered evidence including two invoices of €500 each that identify a bank account in his name.
The newspaper adds that the UCI and its legal department have been following developments in the case since last September.
In October last year, Ciprelli successfully appealed a ban imposed on him earlier in the year by the French cycling federation (FFC) for allegedly buying doping products including EPO via the internet.
Longo herself was cleared last November of charges relating to three missed out-of-competition drugs tests under the ‘whereabouts’ programme operated by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Three missed tests would usually result in an automatic ban, but the 53-year-old was cleared because the FFC had not formally told her that she was a member of the testing pool as required by new rules introduced in April 2010, prior to the third ‘missed’ test in June last year.
Subsequent to that decision, L’Equipe reported that lawyers for Longo had filed a criminal complaint against France’s anti-doping authority, the AFLD, as a result of the effect on her image of press reports of the allegations against her.
After her acquittal, Longo, who has won 59 French and 13 world titles on the road and track plus Olympic road race gold at Atlanta in 1996, expressed her determination to compete at London 2012, although as L’Equipe says, today’s developments could irreparably damage her hopes of being selected.