News for May 9, 1999

French drug enquiry update

The two key figures in this latest round of revelations are the sport's lawyer Bertrand Lavelot and soigneur Bernard Sainz. Lavelot is the laywer of Richard Virenque (and Cees Priem also). His spouse is a pharmacist and she was also questioned by the French police. Sainz was an assistant team manager in the 1960s for the team which Raymond Poulidor rode for. He was taken into custody on Thursday e night and it has been alleged that he sold doping products, including EPO to RaphaŽl Martinez, the brother of MTB rider Miguel Martinez. During raids on the office and house of Bertrand Lavelot police seized banned substances, needles and manuals explaining the administration of the drugs. They also found a large quantity of money.

Sainz and Lavelot (plus 6 other people) are still being questioned in Paris by the police. The investigations started in 1998 when police suspected that Lavelot and Sainz were dealing in drugs. Raphael Martinez was also taken into custody by police in Paris on Thursday.

While earlier reports said that Franck Vandenbroucke was going to go training with Philippe Gaumont, it now seems that he was going fishing in the north of Paris with Gaumont.

The Cofidis team management quickly released a press statement which read: Cofidis will act as it always has according to its ethics. It calls on the public to respect the presumption of innocence and to adopt great caution."

On Saturday morning l'Equipe, Het Volk (Belgium) and Gazetto (Italy) published articles from an unidentified source in Paris saying that VDB gave a statement that he had used drugs. The reports claimed that VDB had allegedly said that "without the drugs I couldn't ride Paris Roubaix". There was also claims that the house searches conducted by the police had found evidence that VDB had paid 300,000 francs to Sainz.

However, the reports were refuted later in the morning when the Paris court denied that VDB had talked about taking drugs.

Graeme Miller reports from the Tour de Gila

Stage 3, Tour de Gila, 140 kms and hilly.

The wind was up at the start today and we had a stretch of 12 kms of side wind right from the get go. It was hard and fast and in the gutter - good old Kiwi stuff. A group of about 8 got away early with no Saturn. We had John Leiswyn along for the ride, so they had to set tempo right from the start and very uncomfortable it was too. They caught the group at about half way which was after the two climbs. When it regrouped it was all on Saturn were tired and Wherry was we thought open for attacks But he was man enough to take what all the teams through at him. Brian Walton at his side all day was his saving I feel. Brian is I feel the best worker you could ever ask for. He did his job on and above today. With about 32 kms to go another group escaped with one of all the big teams in it. The bunch sat up and let it go we were happy with John Leiswyn as our man. With 24 kms to go the gap was up to 3 mins so we decided that it was better for us to keep control of things and close the gap down to about 1min. So it was a hard finish to the day for us disposable riders on team Shaklee. We finished 30 odd seconds behind at the end so all went to plan Plus we found out that John won the stage.