Police seach Festina's headquarters in Lyon
Posted: Saturday July 11, 1998 04:47 PM
LILLE, France (CNN/SI) -- French police intensified their investigation Saturday as the prologue of the 85th Tour de France began in Dublin.
Police sources in the southeastern city of Lyon said Festina's team headquarters was searched. However, no information is yet available at to what the search turned up.
The investigation began after Willy Voet of Belgium, a medical official for the Festina team was arrested for possesson of illegal substances Thursday.
Customs officials at the French-Belgian border discovered steroids and other drugs in a car painted with Festina colors and driven by a man said to be a team health specialist, police sources said.
According to the police sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, steroids and the equivalent of 250 doses of a hormone known as Epo which helps in the transport of oxygen through the blood, were found in the car.
Voet has maintained that the drugs were for his personal use, categorically denying they were destined for the team in the grueling three-week race.
Festina's manager, speaking on France 2 television, said the team has not been officially notified of the arrest or investigation.
"All my information today comes from the press ...," said Bruno Roussel, speaking from Dublin, Ireland, where the race begins this year. "If on my arrival in France, I'm summoned ... I'll answer any questions in all honesty with nothing to hide."
The preliminary investigation shows that the health specialist, starting in Lyon, traveled to Switzerland and Germany, where the drugs were apparently purchased, then passed through Belgium on his way to the French port of Calais.
Jean-Claude Killy, the skiing champion who is president of the Societe de Tour de France, said he is "following the affair by the millimeter."
Festina, one of 21 teams riding in this year's Tour de France, is among the favorites.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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