PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Laurent Jalabert has said that his life has been like a nightmare since his name surfaced on Monday in a Bordeaux court where 23 people are on trial for suspected involvement in a ring that was trafficking doping products to French amateur riders.
On Monday, Fabien Roux, one of the 23 on trial and younger brother of former Castorama and TVM pro Laurent Roux, said Jalabert "had initiated me into use of pot belge", referring to an amphetamine-based concoction that the alleged ring was selling. He also said he had seen Jalabert "injecting himself in his own garage in the company of other professionals".
Subsequently, Laurent Roux, who is also on trial, testified his bother was wrong, declaring: "These statements were badly interpreted. Fabien was initiated into use of pot belge during a celebration in honour of Jalabert, but not by Laurent Jalabert himself."
Speaking to L'Equipe, Jalabert said he didn't even know Fabien Roux. He admitted being at a party in his honour, saying: "I have a fan club which organises a party every winter and lots of regional pros turn up. But I wasn't aware of his presence there, but I will answer his accusations."
Jalabert was interviewed by police about the pot belge affair in early 2005. "Like everyone else I heard that a ring trafficking in products had been dismantled and that the Roux brothers were implicated. I hadn't had any news from Laurent for several years," said Jalabert.
He continued: "Two days later the police in Cahors called me and asked me to come in to answer some questions. Laurent Roux's brother had told them he had used pot belge at a party organised by my fan club. I wasn't cited as the instigator of this use, but he thought that as it was my fan club I had procured the products for everyone.
"I told them I wasn't aware of this happening during an interview that lasted an hour. When I left they told me: 'Monsieur, if there is anything else we will be in touch.' But I've heard nothing since then. The next step, for me, was last Monday and since then I've lived a nightmare. I've been cited in a case that has got nothing to do with me, and that has created an enormous media frenzy which has had a big impact. I imagine that if there had been the slightest doubt about me, [the police] would have been right in touch."
Jalabert said he felt his name may well have cropped up because others were envious of the success he had enjoyed as a rider, and continues to enjoy through various current links with cycling.
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM