Festina affair

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The Festina affair refers to the events that surrounded several doping scandals, doping investigations and confessions by riders to doping that occurred during and after the 1998 Tour de France. The affair began when a large haul of doping products was found in a car of the Festina cycling team just before the start of the race. An investigation was followed by the opening of a separate case into the TVM team and the subsequent searching of many teams during the race. The investigation revealed systematic doping, and suspicion was raised that there may have been a widespread network of doping involving many teams of the Tour de France. Hotels were searched by police, and a spate of confessions were made by retired and current riders. Many team personnel were arrested or detained, and protests were made by riders in the race. Several teams withdrew from the race.

As of December 2000, all nine Festina riders had confessed using EPO and other doping substances during the 1998 Tour de France, and suspended sentences ranging from 5–12 months were handed out in the criminal court case to: Willy Voet (Festina's soigneur), Bruno Roussel (Festina's manager), Jef d'Hont (soigneur of La Française des Jeux team), Jean Dalibot (former Festina soigneur) and Joel Chabiron (Festina's communication officer). The two accused pharmasists Éric Paranier and Christine Paranier along with Nicolás Terrados (doctor of the ONCE team) was only given fines, while the case against Eric Rijckaert (Festina's doctor) was dropped due to his deteriorating health.

Introduction

That year, the Tour de France began in Dublin, Ireland; it was the first time that the Tour started in Ireland. The race began on July 11, later than usual due to the 1998 FIFA World Cup being held in France.[1] Ahead of the race the former Irish professionals Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and Martin Earley were being presented with awards, while the organisation of the race in Ireland led by Pat McQuaid, Alan Rushton and Mick Bennett, as well as the authorities of Dublin, prepared for the disruption to the city. The favourites such as Jan Ullrich, Bjarne Riis and Erik Zabel arrived via air in the days preceding the race.[2] The arrival of the Tour was seen as a great coup for Ireland according to the then Minister for Sport Jim McDaid. It represented a huge logistics operation from each of the teams: in total 3,500 personnel would have to be transported and 1,500 vehicles would be shipped to Ireland and back to France.[3]

Time line

1998 Tour de France

July 8, 1998: Willy Voet, Belgian soigneur of the Festina team and personal carer of Richard Virenque was stopped by customs officers at the Belgian-French border close to Neuville-en-Ferrain near Lille in Northern France. Officers discovered several hundred grams and capsules of anabolic steroids, Erythropoietin (EPO), syringes and other doping products. Voet was taken into police custody. Festina offices were searched in the evening in Lyon and other suspect products were seized.[4] One of the substances that was found that would later be discussed was perfluorocarbon which was said to be an artificial carrier of oxygen. The substance was very dangerous to take and is suspected to have caused the near fatal collapse of Swiss rider Mauro Gianetti during the 1997 Tour de Romandie.[5]

July 10, 1998: Bruno Roussel, directeur sportif of Festina, declared a day before the start of the Tour in Dublin that he had nothing to do with the drugs find. He claimed that Voet was not supposed to be with the team for the Tour.[6] Meanwhile a judicial inquiry into the importation and illegal circulation of contraband items began in France. It was announced that Voet would be imprisoned in Loos for two weeks.

July 11, 1998: French police state that the car contained 250 bottles of EPO (originating from three labs in Germany and Switzerland), plus 400 bottles and ampules of various products. Voet is alleged to have driven from Lyon, France via Switzerland to Germany and from there to Belgium. In the Festina headquarters the police allege that they found a document with systematic drug programmes for the riders of Festina.[7] As the race began in Dublin, it was announced that the Festina riders Richard Virenque, Alex Zülle and Laurent Dufaux would face questioning when they returned to France.

July 14, 1998: Gérard Gremion, a doctor from Switzerland said in the French newspaper, France-Soir, that 99% of the peloton used doping. Roussel and Festina team doctor Eric Rijckaert continued to deny doping on the team.

July 15, 1998: Roussel and Rijckaert are taken into custody in Cholet. The Festina hotel was searched by 8 gendarmes.[8]

July 16, 1998: Roussel lost his licence as a manager of a cycling team from the UCI but the Festina team appeared to be able to continue in the race due to Miguel Moreno together with Michael Gros taking it over.[9] Virenque, Dufaux and Brochard called a press conference before the stage and assured that the team would not withdraw from the race.[10]

July 17, 1998: Roussel admitted to systematic doping on the team. In the late evening, Tour de France race directeur Jean-Marie Leblanc expelled the Festina team from the Tour; they did not start the seventh stage the following day (July 18).[11][12]

July 18, 1998: Virenque left the Tour in tears.[13]

July 19, 1998: French daily Aujourd’hui reported that on March 4, 1998 police found 104 ampules of EPO in a vehicle of the TVM team. This occurred following a race (GP Valencia) during a routine customs check close to Reims in North-East France. Team mechanics were driving the vehicle at the time. The judicial authorities did not make the case a priority. Meanwhile the new Festina assistant manager Michael Gros alleged that Festina did what every team was doing.[14]

July 21, 1998: The lawyer of Rijckaert alleged that his client had told that there was a special doping fund with the Festina team. This fund was used to procure doping products and had about 60.000 euro (at the time described in francs).[15] A former TVM rider, Alain Van Den Bossche, admitted to taking EPO while riding on the team back in 1994.

July 23, 1998: Nine riders and three officials from Festina's Tour De France team, are taken into police custody. Famously Christophe Bassons was not taken into custody and he was the only member of the team not implicated in the doping.[16] In Pamiers, Cees Priem the manager of the TVM team and Andrei Michailov, the TVM team doctor, are taken into custody and detained overnight. Four other TVM officials including directeur sportif Hendrik Redant are also interrogated but are later released. Priem and Michailov were arrested after the French police raided the Hotel de la Rocade in Palmiers, the hotel that the team was staying in. Police found drug evidence in a suitcase and a rubbish bin in TVM’s hotel room in Toulouse and Metz.[17]

Eric van de Sijpe, a Belgian judge, ordered a search of the offices of the Festina doctor (who lived in Belgium) whereby the police obtained computer files proving the riders were using EPO. Festina riders (Richard Virenque, Pascal Hervé, Didier Rous, Alex Zülle, Armin Meier and Laurent Dufaux) are questioned in Lyon and held in police custody. Police announce that they will also question the Rabobank and Casino teams.[18] All nine Festina riders who had participated in the 1998 Tour de France, were escorted to a hospital and obligated to undergo extensive tests and sample giving such as blood, hair and urine samples.[19]

The television crew of France 2 found needles with the remains of banned substances in the hotel room of the Asics team (who were also riding the Tour). The syringes allegedly had the initials of the riders of the team.[18]

July 24, 1998: Priem and Michailov are transferred to Foix. The nine riders from Festina are let free. Five of them (Zülle, Dufaux, Moreau, Brochard en Meier) have admitted to doping. Virenque claims that he is clean. Hervé also maintains he is innocent. An investigation into TVM begins. Stage 12 is interrupted for two hours by riders.[20]

Interim Festina manager Moreno is also released on bail while former manager Roussel, masseur Voet and doctor Rijckaert are held. The revelations of Meier provoked the riders strike in the stage. A second investigation is launched into the drugs find of the TVM team during the Tour.[21] Voet and Roussel explain how doping was organised on the team and that the other teams are involved in smuggling.[22] Alex Zülle also admits to doping but claims that he needed to do so to satisfy his sponsors. Zülle claims that he was deprived of his spectacles during the police interview. Dufaux admitted to doping in police custody because the evidence proving that he was doping was overpowering, he claimed.[23]

July 27, 1998:: The police say that the Festina affair and the TVM affair are not connected. Priem and Michailov are still held in custody. The President of the International Olympic Committee Juan Antonio Samaranch called for performance enhancing drugs to be legalised. His call was supported by two cycling teams, Banesto and Team ONCE. Cees Priem and Alexandrei Michailov are taken by car from Foix to Reims and are still detained. Neil Stephens, a Festina rider at the Tour, admits taking performance enhancing drugs but claims that he thought the EPO injections were vitamin C and E supplements.[24]

July 28, 1998: Two former riders of Festina, Gilles Bouvard and Emmanuel Magnien, confess to doping. Roussel is released on bail. TVM are met by the police in Albertville; six TVM riders including sprinter Jeroen Blijlevens, Bart Voskamp, Servais Knaven and Steven de Jongh are taken in the night to the hospital where they give blood, hair and urine samples. TVM Soigneur Jan Moors is arrested. Police also take three cases, a sports bag and a dustbin from the team. Afterwards the rest of the team are taken into custody and escorted to the hospital for extensive drug tests.[25]

July 29, 1998: The Tour peloton conducted an industrial dispute by cycling very slowly. The champion of France, Laurent Jalabert pulled out first followed by the rest of his team, Team ONCE. The Spanish team Banesto and the Italian team Risco Scotti left at the feeding zone. The peloton stopped a second time and threatened a mass withdrawal against the treatment of the Tour riders as criminals. At a slow tempo, the peloton walked to Aix-les-Bains and the stage was cancelled. In the afternoon there was a raid on Team ONCE, Team Polti, La Française des Jeux, Lotto and Casino. Team managers Marc Madiot (La Française des Jeux), Vincent Lavenu (Casino) and the rider Rodolfo Massi (Casino) are arrested. It was also announced that Coca-Cola, a major sponsor of the Tour de France, decided to withdraw from sponsoring the race.[26]

July 30, 1998: Kelme and Vitalicio Seguros pull out of the Tour before the 18th stage. TVM rider Jeroen Blijlevens pulls out near the border with Switzerland. Rodolfo Massi, leader of the Mountains classification, was not able to start the stage as he was still being held in police custody. The truck of the Casino team was seized by police. The media reports that the drugs found in Voet’s car were destined to be shared by three other teams – Big Mat, La Française des Jeux and Casino. These teams were allegedly mentioned by Festina riders during their confessions.[27]

July 31, 1998: Blijlevens arrived back in the Netherlands and was joined by the rest of the TVM team who did not start the 19th stage. Massi and Terrados are taken from Chambéry to Lille where investigating judge Patrick Keil would interrogate them. Massi was suspected to be involved in the Festina drugs network and in smuggling of drugs from Italy to France. Massi was allegedly known in the peloton as the little chemist.[28] At this stage there are fewer than one hundred riders in the race compared to the 189 riders that started the race.[15]

August 1, 1998: Massi is charged with inciting and facilitating the use of doping.[29]

August 3, 1998: Cees Priem, Andrej Michailov and Jan Moors are still held in prison. TVM riders have to present themselves in Reims. After several hours of questioning they are released. TVM masseur Johannes Moors is jailed for suspicion of possessing drugs and breaches of French customs laws. Police find banned substances in the hotel of Team ONCE. Team doctor Terrados alleges that these substances were used by support staff.

August 4, 1998: Jean-Marie Leblanc acknowledges that the increasing speed of the peloton in the Tour was due to the increasing use of doping in the peloton.[30]

August 5, 1998: The media contains many reports of drug finds along the route of the Tour – by farmers or by police in the hotels used by teams – for example a hotel in Voreppe used by GAN, Casino, Saeco and Kelme.

August 10, 1998: Cantina Tollo and La Française des Jeux vehicles are searched by French customs officials.

Post-tour investigation

September 13, 1998: Two pharmacists Christine and Eric Paranier are questioned in respect to supplying illegal doping products to Voet.[19]

September 18, 1998: Française des Jeux soigneur Jef d'Hont is taken into police custody and imprisoned for 11 days.[19]

September 23, 1998: Voet accuses Virenque of doping in the French newspaper Le Parisien.[19] Voet said to the newspaper that only three Festina riders were drug free. These were Christophe Bassons, Patrice Halgand and Laurent Lefevre.[31]

October 15, 1998: There is a confrontation between Virenque, Voet and Rijckaert where Virenque calls himself an innocent victim.[19]

November 28, 1998: The results of the analysis of the samples taken from the nine Festina riders are known and are subsequently released and revealed evidence of Human Growth Hormone, amphetamines, steroids, corticoids and Erythropoietin (EPO). In eight of the nine riders test positive for synthetic EPO. The results of the ninth rider (Christophe Moreau) were indeterminate but Moreau had already admitted use of EPO. Traces of amphetamines were found in the samples of Moreau, Pascal Hervé, Laurent Brochard and Didier Rous. Four riders had hematocrit levels below the legal limit of 50%, establish in February 1997.[32] These included Virenque, Armin Meier, Moreau who had a level of 49.3 and Laurent Dufaux who had a level of 47.2%. Five riders were above the limit. Brochard had 50.3%, Neil Stephens 50.3%, Hervé 52.6%, Rous 51% and Alex Zülle 52.3%.[citation needed]

December 15, 1998: Laurent Brochard, Christophe Moreau and Didier Rous are suspended by the French Cycling Federation for six months and cannot ride until April 30, 1999.[33]

December 17, 1998: Team doctor of Team ONCE Nicolas Terrados is charged in relation to the import of banned substances.[34]

Investigation in 1999 and aftermath

January 26, 1999: Joel Chabiron, Festina communications director, is charged.[19]

March 23, 1999: Jean Marie Dalibot, the soigneur of Festina, is charged.[19]

March 26, 1999: Virenque is charged with inciting the use and administration of doping products to others.[19]

April 1, 1999: Jean-Marie Leblanc is taken into police custody and questioned.[19]

April 4, 1999: French Federation Cycling vice president Roger Legacy and President Baal are charged with violation of the anti-doping law of 1989. (These charges would be subsequently dropped).[19]

June, 1999: In an interview with L'Équipe, Roussel alleged that when he told Virenque of Voet being arrested, Virenque replied mes produits, comment Je vais faire maintenant? which could be translated as my products/stuff – what am I going to do now?[35]

June 17, 1999: The organisers of the Tour de France announce the teams of the 1999 Tour de France where they take the unprecedented step of banning teams, team officials and individual riders. In the aftermath of the Festina affair, Virenque was banned together his former teammate Hervé. Manolo Saiz, manager of ONCE-Deutsche Bank, Dr Nicolas Terrados team doctor of Team ONCE and the entire TVM-Farm Frites were also banned. This was in relation to the actions and behaviour of these teams and riders during the 1998 Tour.[36][37]

Festina trial

October 23, 2000: Festina trial began. Ten people stood trial. The defendants included:

  • Richard Virenque, former Festina rider and team leader, charged with inciting the administration of doping and masking products to others and complicity in the importation of drugs. Virenque faced a two-year jail sentence and a fine of 100,000 francs.
  • Bruno Roussel, former directeur sportif and manager of Festina, charged with helping and inciting the use of doping products in competition, importation, smuggling and improper circulation of prohibited substances as well as complicity in the importation, storage and acquisition of illegal substances.
  • Willy Voet, former soigneur, charged with helping and inciting the use of doping in competition, unauthorized importation of drugs, complicity in smuggling and infringements of the narcotics law.
  • Dr Erik Rijckaert, former Festina doctor, same charges as Roussel plus charged with administering doping products.
  • Dr Nicolas Terrados, team doctor of ONCE at time of 1998 Tour de France and Festina trial, charged with unauthorized importation of drugs. The raid did not identify he possessed any EPO (as originally suspected), but that he was in possession of excessive quantities of the four medicines: Couldina (medicine to counter colds), Celestone (glucocorticoid steroid), Prednisone (cortico steroid), and Logradine (asthma medicine with Pseudoephedrine/Loratadine).[38]
  • Christine Paranier, pharmacist, charged with helping with the use of doping and infringements in public health law.
  • Éric Paranier, pharmacist, same charges as Christine Paranier.
  • Jef d'Hont, soigneur of La Française des Jeux team, charged with inciting the use of doping products and infringements of public health law.
  • Jean Dalibot, former soigneur, same charges as Jef d'Hont as well as infringements to customs law.
  • Joel Chabiron, former Festina communications officer, same charges as Jean Dalibot.[39]

Witnesses included:

October 23, 2000: The book of Erwann Menthéour "Secret Defonce - Ma vérité sur le dopage" (published in February 1999)[40] describe how he used EPO while riding for Française des Jeux in 1997, where he point out soigneur of the Française des Jeux team Jef d'Hont as the one facilitating him with EPO, and treating him with a Glucose-infusion one hour ahead of a UCI hematocrite test in the 1997 edition of Paris-Nice - as he attempted in vain to lower his hematocrite value below the 50%-limit.[41] He also stated his team manager Marc Madiot had been fully aware of his EPO use in 1997.[42]

October 23, 2000: On the first day of the trial, Voet states that he never let the hematocrit level of the riders exceed 54% whereas other teams were letting it go as high as 64%. This was under the order of team doctor Eric Rijckaert.[43]

October 24, 2000: Virenque admitted to doping.[44][45]

October 25, 2000: Pascal Hervé, Virenque's friend and the only other Festina rider to deny doping, admitted to doping.[45][46]

October 27, 2000: Former rider Thomas Davy testified at the trial that the teams Castorama, Banesto, Team Telekom and La Française des Jeux also had been running organized systematic doping programs, similar to the one revealed at the Festina Team. He knew that from riding at Castorama (1992–94), Banesto (1995–96) and Française des Jeux (1997). His use of EPO started in 1995, and continued until he stopped his career by the end of the 1997 season. When asked if Miguel Indurain at Banesto had also used EPO, he said "I don't know. I didn't go into every room, but I think he did". While riding for Française des Jeux in 1997, he pointed out Jef d'Hont as the person supplying him with EPO.[42]

November 1, 2000: On the stand UCI President Hein Verbruggen admitted that organised doping may exist. The following day several doctors of Spanish cycling teams responded by refuting this statement. Jesús Hoyos (Banesto), Kepa Celaya (ONCE) and Eufemiano Fuentes (Kelme doctor) spoke to the Spanish daily paper As to refute this statement.[47] Fuentes would later emerge as the key figure in the Operación Puerto doping scandal.

December 22, 2000: Virenque was cleared from the criminal charge of "inciting the administration of doping and masking products to others and complicity in the importation of drugs". Voet was given a 10 month suspended sentence and a 30,000 franc fine. Bruno Roussel, was given a suspended sentence of 1 year and a fine of 50,000 francs.[48] Christine Paranier received a 30,000 francs fine (4,573 euros). Her husband Éric received a fine of 10,000 francs (around 1,500 euros). Jef d'Hont received a nine-month suspended sentence and a fine of 20,000 francs (around 3,000 euros). Jean Dalibot and Joel Chabiron received a five-month suspended sentence. Dr. Terrados was given a 30,000 francs fine. The case against Eric Rijckaert was dropped due to his deteriorating health. He would die a month later of cancer.[49]

December 30, 2000: Swiss cycling federation gave a nine-month ban to Virenque and a 4,000 Swiss franc fine.[50]

Books

Many books have been written about the Festina affair.

TVM affair

The TVM affair, was in the French judicial system treated as an independent court case. As the French police executed the TVM raid and held several TVM key staff into custody along with performing additional advanced doping testing and interrogation of six TVM riders, during the same time span where the Festina investigation occurred, the TVM affair is never-the-less often referred to as being part of the "Festina scandal". After the public prosecutor in Reims had prepared the case, the court arbitration was conducted during 28–31 May 2001, with Cees Priem (TVM manager), Andrei Mikhailov (TVM doctor) and Jan Moors (TVM soigneur) being charged for import, transport and possession of doping/drugs on French soil.

Main events:[51]

  • March 9, 1998: 104 EPO vials are seized by the French police from a TVM-car near the Spanish border, on its way back home from the Vuelta a Murcia race in Spain.
  • July 18, 1998: The French newspaper Aujourd'hui (locally known as Le Parisien), which is owned by the Amaury Group, publish the story about the TVM-affair. Cees Priem admits the fact that some EPO vials indeed had been seized from a TVM-car, but insists that the event in no way was related to his cycling team.
  • July 23, 1998: On the rest day of the Tour, the French police raided the Hotel De la Rocade in Pamiers, where the TVM team was staying. Cees Priem and Andrei Mikhailov are arrested. Four other TVM-members, including assistant team manager Hendrik Redant and the TVM mechanic who was driving the car with EPO vials in March 1998, are interrogated for several hours, but released again after the questioning.[52]
  • July 24, 1998: The prosecutor in Reims reports that masking agents and doping were found at some of TVM's team trucks and rented rooms at their hotel in Pamiers. Several months later, it was revealed that in addition to the seized substances, the police had also found traces of EPO in some used syringes in the trash cans located in the TVM rented hotel rooms.[53] The riders in the peloton arranged a 1 hour long sitting strike in the middle of stage 12, to protest that the police had decided to keep holding TVM-staff in custody overnight.
  • July 27, 1998: Priem and Mikhailov are indicted for breaking the law on toxic substances, inciting use of doping substances, and violating the French customs legislation.
  • July 28, 1998: French police raided the TVM hotel in Albertville, and arrested the TVM soigneur Jan Moors. The six remaining riders (Jeroen Blijlevens, Bart Voskamp, Servais Knaven, Steven De Jongh, Serguei Outschakov and Sergei Ivanov) are all escorted to the nearest hospital, were they are forced to submit some extra urine, blood and hair samples. The police want to conduct some new advanced doping testing on the rider samples, as circumstantial evidence in a court case against the team for running an organized systematic doping program.
  • July 29, 1998: The riders in the peloton protest again by not racing the stage, just rolling through and letting four TVM riders cross the finish line - some meters ahead of the peloton. ASO consequently decided to cancel the stage.
  • July 30, 1998: The first TVM-rider, Jeroen Blijlevens, decide to abandon the Tour prematurely when the route crosses the Swiss border. At the same day, Moors was also transferred by the police from Albertville to the prison in Reims.
  • July 31, 1998: The five remaining TVM-riders decides to abandon the Tour.
  • Aug. 3, 1998: The six TVM-riders who were tested on July 28, are being called in for a second interrogation along with eight additional TVM-staffs. As French law does not prosecute riders for doping use, and as none of those interrogated in the second round could be charged for doping trafficking, selling, administration or incentives/facilitation, they were all released again.[54][55]
  • Aug. 10, 1998: On basis of interrogations and the seizure of masking and doping products at the raids on July 23+28, the police decides to prolong the jailing of Mikhailov and the detaining of Priem and Moors. Priem and Moors are however transferred from prison to a more relaxing "house arrest" at a hotel in Reims.
  • Aug. 20, 1998: As part of the investigation, the police in Reims decides to interrogate a further seven TVM riders (Michel Lafis, Tristan Hoffman, Hendrik Van Dijck, Peter Van Petegem, Laurent Roux, Johan Capiot and Lars Michaelsen), and by same occasion collect samples of their hair, urine and blood, in order to also test those riders for potential doping use.
  • Nov. 10, 1998: The newspaper Aujourd'hui report that the advanced extra doping tests conducted on samples of the interrogated TVM riders, now have returned several positives for EPO, anabolic steroids, growth hormones, corticosteroids, amphetamines and cannabis.
  • Nov. 25, 1998: Priem is interrogated.
  • Nov. 26, 1998: Moors and Mikhailov are interrogated.
  • Nov. 27, 1998: The investigation chief calls eight of the previously tested TVM-riders (Blijlevens, Voskamp, Knaven, Outschakov, Lafis, Hoffman, Van Dijck and Van Petegem) in for a second interrogation in Reims, as he want to confront them with a positive test result from their submitted samples.[56] In regards of Peter Van Petegem, it was noted some of the new scientific doping tests used by the police had found traces of EPO and anabolic steroids in his hair and blood samples from 20 August 1998. Van Petegem, who would risk losing his World Championship silver medal if found guilty of having doped, confidently announced he would refute all test results, arguing that he could not be convicted guilty by some newly developed scientific doping tests - not yet certified by IOC/UCI.[57]
  • Dec. 3, 1998: The eight TVM-riders mentioned above, are interrogated and free to leave again after 6 hours.
  • Dec. 4, 1998: Priem and Moors are released from their long house arrest and now allowed to travel home to the Netherlands, and the team doctor Mikhailov is also released after paying a bailout fee to the court.
  • May 10, 1999: The French lawyer, Lavelot, who defended the imprisoned TVM staff in 1998, is now himself suspected and being accused for being involved in doping trafficking. The TVM-team release a press statement, that they immediately have stopped all collaboration with the lawyer.
  • June 16, 1999: Jean-Marie Leblanc, chief of the Tour organization, decides not to invite TVM and Richard Virenque as participants in the next edition of the Tour, because he still consider them as being tainted from unsolved doping allegations in the TVM affair and Festina affair. He also decides not to invite these two other riders with unsolved cases: Laurent Roux and Philippe Gaumont, along with the ONCE team's manager Manolo Saiz and doctor Nicolás Terrados.[58] Virenque's Team Polti then appealed to UCI against this decision, and UCI then decided to force the Tour organization to accept that Virenque and Saiz can start in the upcoming edition of the Tour. The decision to boycott the TVM team along with Roux and Gaumont was however accepted.[59]
  • Dec. 7, 1999: ASO decides after having received guarantees that the TVM-team will employ a new manager, that the team will be invited for the 2000 Tour de France.
  • Jan. 7, 2000: Cees Priem is replaced by Jacques Hanegraaf as team manager. The team lost TVM as sponsor, but continue with the new sponsor name Farm Frites.


TVM trial:[51]

  • May 28, 2001: The prosecutor first presented the test results for the seized products: The content of three seized medical suitcases had included 12 full vials with ACTH corticosteroids, caffeine tablets and ventoline (salbutamol); and empty vials/syringes found in the dustbins at two hotel rooms rented by TVM contained traces of recombinant EPO and a "homemade cocktail" (presumably comprising anabolic steroids, growth hormones and amphetamines). Dr. Francoise Bressolle (responsible for analysis of blood samples) and Dr.Pépin (responsible for analysis of hair and urine samples), then presented the analysis results for the 12 tested TVM riders. Dr. Bressol stated "It is very likely that four TVM riders (Jeroen Blijlevens, Bart Voskamp, Servais Knaven and Serguei Outschakov) used EPO in the 1998 Tour", as their blood samples from 28 July 1998 showed a relatively high hematocrit value and a remarkably low natural production of red blood cells (Outschakov=3.9, Knaven=4.6, Blijlevens=4.8, Voskamp=5.1) - while the iron content in the blood at the same time indicated such high hematocrit values could only stem from injection of medical EPO. Bressolle further clarified scientific studies had proofed, that a low natural production of red blood cells along with high hematocrit and iron values, always was visible in blood samples starting from 5–6 days after having injected medical EPO, and thus the riders displaying this test pattern in their blood were "very likely" to have injected medical EPO. In regards of the earlier referred to "EPO indication" for Peter Van Petegem, this was something Bressolle on the other hand argued should be classified as "doubtful values", rather than "positive indication".[60][61]
    Urine samples had been corticosteroids positive for Jeroen Blijlevens and Bart Voskamp (according to the Trouw newspaper), while the NRC newspaper reported Jeroen Blijlevens, Serguei Outschakov and Laurent Roux to have been positive for this substance. Finally all sources reported, that Dr.Pépin with certainty also had detected amphetamine traces in the samples of two TVM riders (Tristan Hoffman and Laurent Roux), who were both tested out-of-competition on 20 August 1998; and in the urine sample of Laurent Roux he also detected the recreational drug cannabis. The last piece of incriminating evidence was a seized book accounting, proving that all TVM riders annually paid the team doctor 7.5% of their total prize money as a fee for "common purchase of medicines", which the testimonies of Roux, Hoffman and Van Petegem later on had also confirmed.[60][61][62]
  • May 28, 2001: The defendants lawyer answered that the 12 corticosteroid vials had been solely intended for Blijlevens, Voskamp and Outschakov, who at that point of time had carried a Temporary Use Exemption (TUE) for this treatment, due to racing with some unhealed injuries. He also noted Laurent Roux had used it early in the Tour, due to riding with an injury. No explanation was given for the traces of medical EPO and "homemade cocktail" in the garbage. In regards of the two riders found positive for amphetamines (Tristan Hoffman and Laurent Roux), he believed the amounts were so small, that they likely stemmed from a use of pain-killers during some of the days where the two riders were not racing. If the traces indeed could be proofed to origin from an intake of pure amphetamines, he pointed out the doping list anyway still had not prohibited such use of recreational drugs - as long as it only happened out of competition, which he in any case claimed it did. A third possible legal route for Tristan Hoffman's positive amphetamine test (found when analyzing his hair), was also suggested to have been stemming from a groin surgery he underwent ahead of the 1998 season. In regards of the four riders showing indication of EPO use, his only counter argument was, that Dr. Bressol only spoke of "probabilities" and could not "proof the EPO use as a certain fact". Finally he claimed the "medicine fee" paid by all riders on the team, was solely used for buying vitamins and minerals.[60][61]
  • May 29, 2001: The prosecutor upheld his indictment of Andrei Mikhailov, Cees Priem and Jan Moors, all being charged for: "Importation, possession and transportation of poisonous materials; incentives and facilitation of doping products; as well as breach of customs legislation on the holding and movement of hazardous materials", with Mikhailov in addition being charged for: "administration of doping and illegal practice of medicine".[63] Andrei Mikhailov (former TVM doctor) maintained his previous claim, that the 104 EPO vials being seized from the TVM-car near the Spanish border in March 1998, was something he had bought himself as a charity gift to a children's hospital in Russia for the purpose of treating children with leukemia, and then attempted to proof his claim by submitting an undated fax send to a Russian doctor. Moreover he claimed the reason he had removed the EPO name stickers from all vials, was not because he intended to mislead anybody, but simply because he did not want any riders to worry about the content of his package. When the prosecutor asked him why he had also opted to remove the small medical description pages, which by law is required always to follow dangerous medicines with possible negative counter effects on health, he provided no explanation for that.[62]
  • July 17, 2001: Despite pleading not guilty, the three TVM staffs were convicted guilty of providing performance-enhancing drugs in an organized way to a majority of its nine Tour riders, ahead and during the 1998 Tour de France. The court handed out the following punishment:[53]
    • Cees Priem (TVM's manager), who had organized the doping, was given an 18-month suspended sentence and fined 80,000 francs (€12,070).
    • Andrei Mikhailov (TVM's doctor), who was found to have supervised the doping, got a 12-month suspended sentence and fined 60,000 francs (€9,053).
    • Jan Moors (TVM's soigneur), who was found to have assisted the doping practice, received a six-month suspended sentence and a fine of 40,000 francs (€6,035).
    • The three convicted persons above, were also fined a total of 50,000 francs (€7,544) for being guilty of violating the customs law on "import of hazardous substances".

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External links