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Cofidis suspend rider over doping suspicions
Agence France Presse
Di Gregorio “will be sacked on the spot” if the doping suspicions are confirmed.
Di Gregorio “will be sacked on the spot” if the doping suspicions are confirmed.
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MACON, France: Tour de France team Cofidis have suspended Frenchman Remy Di Gregorio over doping allegations, the team announced on the race’s first rest day Tuesday.

Di Gregorio was arrested following a police raid at his team’s hotel in Bourg-en-Bresse, several miles outside Macon in eastern France where the race will resume on the 10th stage Wednesday.

A team statement said: “We have just learned that one of our riders, competing at the Tour de France, has attempted to resort to doping substances to improve his performance.

“At the current time, we have very little information about the facts of the case,” it said.

“However the suspicion on the rider concerned, Remy di Gregorio, leaves us with no choice but to hand down the strictest possible sanctions.

“Remy di Gregorio is therefore immediately suspended, provisionally, while we await more ample information on the case.

“If the suspicions are confirmed, he will be sacked on the spot – in accordance with the stipulations in his contract and in line with the ethical policy of the team.”

It is not the first time one or several riders from Cofidis have been embroiled in a doping affair.

Under pressure from organizers the team voluntarily left the race in 2007 when an Italian rider, Cristian Moreni, tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin).

In 2007, current Tour de France leader Bradley Wiggins, now of Team Sky, was part of the Cofidis team that went home after the 16th stage.

Tour de France officials have yet to comment on the case.

Cofidis hope to avoid the same fate.

“We believe however that this isolated case should not place any doubt on the team’s continued participation in the Tour de France, or penalize those who have nothing to blame themselves for.

“The team will therefore line up for the race tomorrow morning,” it added.

Cofidis stressed they had the strictest rules concerning ethics in the team.

“In recent years we have put in place an exemplary anti-doping program that goes well beyond what is imposed by the international anti-doping authorities.”

Di Gregorio was arrested earlier Tuesday as part of an investigation into the organized trafficking of doping substances, Marseille magistrate Jacques Dallest told AFP.

He was taken into police custody in Bourg-en-Bresse and was brought to Marseille for further questioning by investigating magistrate Annaick Le Goff, Dallest said.

Two other unidentified men, suspected of “having dealings” with Di Gregorio, were taken into custody.

World time trial champion Tony Martin of Germany has pulled out of the Tour de France during the race’s first rest day Tuesday, his Omega Pharma team confirmed.

“Tony Martin will not take the start of the 10th stage of Tour de France tomorrow [Wednesday],” his team said in a statement.

“In agreement with the team sport management and the team medical staff, Martin will return at home this afternoon,” it added.

Martin, one of the Omega-Pharma team’s key riders for the three-week epic, crashed on stage one and decided to continue in the race despite being diagnosed with a left wrist fracture.

“Tony’s impressive performance in the last days, going through all the pain and still fighting to be able to compete in the individual TT, shows what kind of character he has,” team doctor Helge Riepenhof said.

“But from the medical point of view, it is now time to give the scaphoid fracture a chance to heal. We also have to avoid further issues to his body because of being limited in his movement while wearing a brace.

“This is the only possible decision to be able to perform at the London Olympics without damaging structures such as the lower back or knees.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 11, 2012, on page 15.
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