Europcar’s Sebastien Turgot, second in Paris-Roubaix last month, has been branded “an idiot” by team manager Jean-René Bernaudeau after becoming the fourth high-profile French cyclist in less than a year to face charges related to infringement of anti-doping ‘whereabouts’ rules.
The 28-year-old, whose runner-up spot to Tom Boonen in the Queen of the Classics was the best performance by a Frenchman in the race in the race since Frederic Guesdon's 1997 victory, faces a ban of up to two years after committing three infringements within 18 months related to World Anti-Doping Agency rules requiring athletes to file details of where they will be to enable random drugs tests to be carried out.
Reacting to the news that the French cycling federation, the FFC, has opened disciplinary proceedings against the rider, Bernaudeau told the newspaper Ouest-France: “He’s an idiot, it’s indefensible,” adding that “he knew the rules,” and that the cyclist had committed “gross negligence.”
Three other leading French cyclists have faced disciplinary proceedings related to whereabouts infringements within the past year.
FDJ-BigMat’s Yoann Offerdo is currently serving a one-year ban, while the FFC handed track star Grégory Baugé a backdated one year ban, the UCI subsequently stripping him of his 2011 world title in the individual sprint, and France of the team sprint title he had helped it win.
Last year, former world and Olympic champion Jeannie Longo was cleared by the FFC of having committed an offence after it was ruled that she had not been notified that she continued to be a member of the elite testing pool required to submit their whereabouts information.
The 53-year-old, who hopes to compete at the Olympics in London this summer 16 years after winning gold in the road race at Atlanta, continues to be embroiled in controversy, however.
Last year her husband and coach, Patrice Ciprelli, successfully appealed a ban imposed by the FFC over charges that he ordering EPO over the internet; in February, however, he was arrested and Longo herself interviewed by French police who had raided their Alpe d’Huez apartment in connection with an investigation into the same allegations.
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.