Multiple world and and French national champion Jeannie Longo is claiming more than €1.1 million in damages and interest from France’s national anti doping agency, the Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD).
The 55-year-old appeared on Monday before the Conseil d’État, France’s supreme administrative court, which also provides advice on legal issues to the government, to put forward her case, reports the Midi Libre.
Longo, winner of the road race at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and three other Olympic medals, was not selected for London 2012, with suspicion falling on her a year earlier after it transpired she had committed three ‘whereabouts’ violations in relation to random anti-doping tests.
She evaded sanction for that offence after it transpired that the AFLD had not notified her that she was on a list of athletes targeted for testing that year.
She is claiming damages and interest for the harm to her reputation due both to those missed tests being made public, and in relation to a separate case involving the online purchase of EPO by her husband and trainer, Patrice Ciprelli.
Her claim is also partly based on what she sees as the unconstitutionality of her continued inclusion in the testing pool for 2012 and 2013.
Rapporteur public Xavier Domino – whose role involves submitting an opinion that may influence the judges’ decision, but isn’t binding on them – acknowledged that her inclusion could infringe her privacy as well as her personal data.
Longo also said that the fact the AFLD both carries out anti-doping controls and applies sanctions is incompatible with rules regarding the separation of powers required by equitable justice.
But Domino insisted the measures were “necessary and proportionate” given the agency’s mission, part of which was to protect the health of athletes.
He added that since Longo is an athlete “who practises a discipline affected by doping and is pursuing a high-level career at an unusual age” was not incompatible with her being designated a member of AFLD’s testing pool.
He asked the judges to reject her argument, and that the financial aspect of the case be referred back to a lower court in Grenoble.
The Conseil d’État said that it would announce its decision in the coming weeks.
Longo won the first of 59 French national titles at the age of 21 after her coach Ciprelli, whom she would later marry, persuaded her to switch to cycling from skiing. She also has 19 world titles on the road and track.
Besides those missed tests in 2011, her reputation has been further sullied by her husband’s admission, when questioned by police, that he had ordered EPO online from former professional cyclist, Joe Papp.
He insists, however, that it was for his own personal usage, and not for his wife.
Ciprelli has attempted to have the action against him dismissed, but last month an appeal court ruled that it could proceed.
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