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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

News flash for June 3, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones

Saeco out of the Tour

Jean Delatour in

The Saeco-Longoni Sport team will not be participating in the upcoming Tour de France, the organisers announced today. The decision was made after Saeco's top rider Gilberto Simoni tested non-negative for cocaine on two occasions, once before the Giro del Trentino and once during the Giro d'Italia.

Saeco suspended Simoni on June 1, pending a full investigation and explanation from the rider, who is claiming that the cocaine came from his ingestion of imported South American products, without knowing they contained traces of cocaine.

When Jean-Marie Leblanc announced the final five wild cards in early May, he said that Simoni's participation in the Tour was the main reason for inviting Saeco, who were overlooked last year. In making their decision today, the Societe made refrerence to the "deplorable events" in the recent Giro d'Italia, adding that it was "inevitable" that Simoni will be suspended for taking drugs. Therefore, his absence "no longer justifies" Saeco's invitation to the Tour, which was given to them on May 2.

The Societe has opted to replace Saeco with another French team, Jean-Delatour, "whose results have been impressive in recent weeks," said the official statement.

Jean Delatour contains Laurent Brochard, Patrice Halgand and Laurent Lefevre as their top riders.