Tour de France team under investigation for alleged doping

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PARIS — French judicial authorities have opened a preliminary investigation into suspected doping during the Tour de France targeting the Arkea-Samsic team, the French outfit confirmed on Monday.

Following reports in the French press that two persons close to the squad led by Colombian rider Nairo Quintana – a former Giro d’Italia and Spanish Vuelta champion – were being held for questioning, cycling governing body the UCI later said it has been in touch with a special public health unit (OCLAESP) as part of the operation carried out by French authorities.

A day after the end of the three-week Tour in Paris, Arkea-Samsic said in a statement that the team itself, the manager and staff have not been accused of wrongdoing after sports newspaper L’Equipe said gendarmes from the OCLAESP led a search on Wednesday in Meribel, in the Savoie region, at the team hotel.

The squad confirmed the raid took place last week and Arkea-Samsic manager Emmanuel Hubert said it “concerned only a very limited number of riders, as well as their close entourage, not employed by the team.”

The French press on Monday quoted a Marseille prosecutor, Dominique Laurens, evoking “the discovery of numerous health products including medicine in personal belongings … and above all a method that could be qualified as doping.”

Prosecutor Dominique Laurens spoke to the French news agency, Agence France-Presse. The prosecutor’s office refused to provide information in a telephone query.

The preliminary investigation was opened for administering and prescribing banned substances without medical justification or detention of and the method used without medical justification, L’Equipe and other news outlets reported.

“We obviously support our riders, but if it turned out that after the ongoing investigation some elements confirm the veracity of doping practices, the team would immediately dissociate itself from such acts and would take without delay the necessary measures to severe possible links with unacceptable methods it has always fought,” Hubert said.

Rookie Tadej Pogacar of Slovenia, who rides for UAE Team Emirates, won the Tour on Sunday. The best-placed rider from Arkea-Samsic was Frenchman Warren Barguil in 14th place.

CAS upholds Nairo Quintana DQ from Tour de France for opioid use

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The disqualification of two-time Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana from his sixth place in the 2022 race for misuse of an opioid was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

CAS said its judges dismissed Quintana’s appeal and agreed with the International Cycling Union that the case was a medical matter rather than a doping rules violation. He will not be banned.

The court said the judges ruled “the UCI’s in-competition ban on tramadol was for medical rather than doping reasons and was therefore within the UCI’s power and jurisdiction.”

Traces of the synthetic painkiller tramadol were found in two dried blood spot samples taken from the Colombian racer five days apart in July, the UCI previously said.

Quintana’s case is among the first to rely on the dried blood spot (DBS) method of collecting samples which the World Anti-Doping Agency approved last year.

Tramadol was banned in 2019 from use at cycling races because of potential side effects. They include the risk of addiction, dizziness, drowsiness and loss of attention.

Quintana finished second in the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015, won both times by Chris Froome. He won the 2014 Giro d’Italia.

Filippo Ganna breaks cycling’s hour world record

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GRENCHEN, Switzerland — Time trial specialist Filippo Ganna broke cycling’s hour record when he covered 56.792 kilometers in 60 minutes.

The Italian extended the record by more than 1.2 kilometers, the biggest jump in seven years.

Asked to describe the pain of the last five minutes, he said, “I lost energy to try to go for 57, but nothing (in the legs).”

He said he was open to another attempt at a different time of the season, when he was fresher.

Ganna took the record from British teammate Dan Bigham, who made his mark at the same Swiss velodrome on Aug. 19.