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Laurent Roux admitted that he used doping products right through his 10-year professional career when he appeared before a court in Bordeaux on Tuesday to face charges with 22 others of being involved in a drug-trafficking ring. Former Castorama, TVM, Casino and Jean Delatour pro Roux said use of illegal products was "generalised" during his time as a pro, from 1994-2003.
"Erythropoietin (EPO), growth hormones, testosterone, cortisone. I took all the basic things that were being used at that time," Roux, 33, testified. "Everyone took that at least."
Roux is suspected of being one of the principal characters in a trafficking ring that is alleged to have brought into French amateur cycling circles a considerable amount of 'pot belge', a doping product based on amphetamines. Among those also accused are Roux's 24-year-old brother, Fabien, and former pro team soigneur Freddy Sergant.
Roux stated that French riders turned to use of doping products in order to achieve the same level of form as foreign pros. He also indicated that he first got involved in trafficking pot belge in 2002 after receiving a four-year ban for a positive dope test that effectively ended his racing career. He said he first approached Sergant to get some pot belge for "personal use" and to combat "a depression". He then got further involved in order to finance his own consumption and that of his brother, an amateur rider.
"When you are an athlete, you are there to win, but these products don't fall out of the sky," said Roux. "You are given advice, provided with products, and it's the doctors who do that." He added that in some teams "the doctors cost more to hire than the riders".
"I'm tired of people always saying that riders are imbeciles and that nobody knows what's going on," Roux said of the pro scene. "Everyone knows what's going on, including the journalists who are with us every day. I am here in front of this court to say all this even though I risk paying for it for the rest of my life. But whatever happens, I'm going to say what I know."
Fabien Roux said that he had first used pot belge at an event organised to honour French racing legend Laurent Jalabert. Later in the day, French cycling federation president Jean Pitallier said Jalabert had never tested positive during his career.
Sergant, meanwhile, admitted importing about 2,000 doses of a product, saying he didn't know "what it contained".
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