PARIS (AP) — French judicial authorities have opened a preliminary investigation into suspected doping during the Tour de France targeting the Arkea-Samsic team, the French outfit confirmed on Monday.
Following reports in the French press that two persons close to the squad led by Colombian rider Nairo Quintana — a former Giro d’Italia and Spanish Vuelta champion — were being held for questioning, cycling governing body the UCI later said it has been in touch with a special public health unit (OCLAESP) as part of the operation carried out by French authorities.
A day after the end of the three-week Tour in Paris, Arkea-Samsic said in a statement that the team itself, the manager and staff have not been accused of wrongdoing after sports newspaper L’Equipe said gendarmes from the OCLAESP led a search on Wednesday in Meribel, in the Savoie region, at the team hotel.
The squad confirmed the raid took place last week and Arkea-Samsic manager Emmanuel Hubert said it “concerned only a very limited number of riders, as well as their close entourage, not employed by the team.”
The French press on Monday quoted a Marseille prosecutor, Dominique Laurens, evoking “the discovery of numerous health products including medicine in personal belongings … and above all a method that could be qualified as doping.”
Prosecutor Dominique Laurens spoke to the French news agency, Agence France-Presse. The prosecutor’s office refused to provide information in a telephone query.
The preliminary investigation was opened for administering and prescribing banned substances without medical justification or detention of and the method used without medical justification, L’Equipe and other news outlets reported.
“We obviously support our riders, but if it turned out that after the ongoing investigation some elements confirm the veracity of doping practices, the team would immediately dissociate itself from such acts and would take without delay the necessary measures to severe possible links with unacceptable methods it has always fought,” Hubert said.
Rookie Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia, who rides for UAE Team Emirates, won the Tour on Sunday. The best-placed rider from Arkea-Samsic was Frenchman Warren Barguil in 14th place.
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AP Sports writer Samuel Petrequin in Brussels contributed to this report.