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by Dane Cash
September 22, 2020
Photography by Cor Vos
French police searched the hotel rooms of Arkéa-Samsic riders, including Nairo Quintana, last week at the Tour de France. According to the AFP, prosecutors have opened a preliminary inquiry into possible doping by a “small part” of the team.
As first reported by Le Journal du Dimanche and then L’Equipe, Police searched the rooms of Nairo Quintana, his brother Dayer Quintana, Winner Anacona, and other non-riders, as well as the team cars after Wednesday’s stage 17. Arkéa-Samsic was staying in a hotel in Les Allues near Méribel at the time.
The search was conducted by the Central Office for the Fight against Threats to Environmental and Public Health (OCLAESP), and the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) was apparently not involved.
According to Le Parisien, police reportedly recovered “100ml of saline and injection equipment.”
A report in the AFP on Monday confirmed that prosecutors in Marseille have opened a probe following the “discovery of many health products including drugs … and above all a method that can be qualified as doping.”
Le Parisien reports that a doctor and soigneur were taken into police custody on Monday while Nairo and Dayer Quintana were questioned.
The Arkéa-Samsic addressed the news in a statement on Monday evening.
“A search did take place last week in our hotel, as I have already confirmed to various media. It concerned only a very limited number of runners, as well as their close entourage, not employed by the team,” said general manager Emmanuel Hubert.
“The team, its general manager as well as its staff, currently quoted in the media are absolutely not questioned and consequently are not kept informed of any element from near or far, relating to the progress of the investigation, which I remind you that it does not target the team or its staff directly.”
Hubert said that the team would take action if wrongdoing were proven.
“We support our riders obviously, but if it turns out that, at the end of the ongoing investigation, the veracity of doping practices is confirmed, the team will immediately disassociate itself from such acts and will immediately take the necessary measures to put an end to the links that could unite them with unacceptable methods that are still being fought against,” he said.
“Indeed, the team, as a member of the MPCC (Movement For Credible Cycling), has always, over the last 20 years, demonstrated its commitment to ethics and taken a stand in favor of the fight against doping.”
The UCI also addressed the case, noting in a statement that it “has been in communication with OCLAESP and the Cycling Anti-doping Foundation (CADF) as part of the legal operations carried out by the French authorities on the sidelines of the Tour de France. The UCI welcomes and supports the action of all parties involved and will take the appropriate measures once it has taken note of the information obtained by the French legal authorities.”
As L’Equipe noted, the OCLAESP has been involved in at least two other inquiries in the cycling world recently, first looking into technological fraud in the form of hidden motors, and then in an investigation of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step team. Both inquiries have since been closed.