A French court has confirmed that a Team Cofidis rider along with two other unidentified men has been arrested in Marseille in connection with alleged doping offinces. The rider has been named by a French TV station as Rémi Di Gregorio.
In a statement released this afternoon Cofidis said:
“We have just learnt that one of our riders on the Tour de France may have tried to use banned substances to improve his performance,” the French team said in a statement on Tuesday. “Remy Di Gregorio is therefore suspended provisionally.”
Team management also confirmed that if found guilty Di Gregorio would be sacked by the team.
Sources in France are suggesting that the arrest and raid is the result of a year long investigation in to trafficking of doping products. 26 year old Di Gregorio, a climber, only joined Cofidis this season he was at Astana last year when the investiation in to his alleged actvities was opened - before that he rode for FDJ.
Earlier one of the Tour de France's less welcome traditions - the rest day police raid on a team hotel - was resurrected when officers of the gendarmerie raided the Cofidis hotel in Bourg-en-Bresse, Di Gregorio was arrested shortly afterwards.
Team manager Yvon Sanquer who only joined Cofidis at the start of the Tour, (like Di Gregorio also from Astana) as replacment for Eric Bouyer sacked for a run of poor results in recent season offered no immediate comment to the press, but said the team would make a statement later this afternoon - see above.
Cofidis have not been a WorldTour team since 2009 when they were dropped for poor results from the then ProTour. As a leading French team, though, they did get a wildcard entry into this year's race. Orangiser's ASO may well now be regretting that decision - the French outfit were thrown off the 2007 Tour de France following a rest day police raid on the team hotel which lead to the banning of domestique Christian Moreni after he was found to have illegal levels of testosterone in his bloodstream - Moreni admitted the offence. Current Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins was among the Cofidis riders forced to leave the Tour as a result of that incident - David Millar famously lending Wiggins a t-shirt to help him evade the press.
In 2004 the team was enguled in a doping scandal when both David Millar and a number of other riders were arrested for possesion and use of doping products - inlcuding four riders and a physio who were also arrested for possession of cocaine - following that upheaval the team withdrew temporarily from competition and the management was replaced.
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