A stash of medical material and a banned substance were among items seized by police from the room of Spanish cyclist Moises Duenas who has been kicked out of the Tour de France after failing a drugs test, a French court heard on Thursday.
The 27-year-old Barloworld rider tested positive for the blood booster erythropoietin (EPO) during the fourth stage, a 29km time-trial at Cholet.
“In the cupboard and among the rider’s personal belongings gendarmes found many things including medical material,” prosecutor Gerard Aldige told the court.
Aldige said that the products included “syringes, needles and blood bags” and a drug called TAD which is not authorised for import or sale in France.
“A multitude of other products .. in liquid and sachet form” were also seized,” Aldige added.
Duenas was charged with “use and possession of plants and poisonous substances” and could face up to two years in prison and a 3,750 euro fine. He could also be jailed for up to three years for “the importation of banned goods”.
Barloworld team manager Claudio Corti, speaking before the start of the 12th stage in Lavelanet on Thursday, denied all knowledge of the discovery and said he had yet to speak to Duenas.
“I haven’t spoken to any of the authorities yet so I don’t know what has been found. I have questions I would like Duenas too,” said Corti, admitting his team were now in a precarious situation regarding both the race organisers and their sponsor. “It’s a serious situation we are in but I have explained to the organisers that we, as a team, are not implicated in this affair.
“I have also spoken to the sponsor and told him everything I know.”
Corti said that if Duenas is the only one implicated, his team – which is now down to four riders – would be staying in the race.
“If he (Duenas) is the only one implicated then why should the whole team pay for it? We are cooperating and trying to deal with this together,” added Corti. “If it turns out that Duenas has been doing all of this behind our backs, then we will start proceedings against him.”
Barloworld down to four after Baden Cooke quits
Australian Baden Cooke became the fifth rider from the Barloworld team to pull out of the Tour de France on Thursday. Cooke got off his bike after just 25km of the race’s 12th stage, according to official race radio. He had crashed earlier in the stage but had managed to continue.
The British-registered outfit are now down to just four riders. They lost Colombian Felix Cardenas and Italian Paolo Longo on Wednesday’s 11th stage.
Longo sustained a fractured collarbone in a crash which left him in a ditch at the side of the road near the 50km mark. Colombian climber Mauricio Soler – the reigning ‘King of the Mountains’ – pulled out earlier in the race due to a fractured wrist.
On Wednesday, Spaniard Moises Duenas was kicked off the Tour by his team following a positive test for the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin).
Cardenas is a former stage winner on the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain.
© AFP 2008