Festina hires lawyer
Rumors linking team to drug use continue to fly
Posted: Sunday July 12, 1998 12:29 PM
DUBLIN, Ireland (CNN/SI) -- Festina team manager announced Sunday that the team has hired a lawyer after performance-enhancing drugs were found in a car driven by Willy Voet, a medical staff member.
"We were frightened by some of the things we read in the press, which were libellous and defamatory," Festina team director Bruno Roussel said.
"We have engaged a lawyer in Paris who will decide what action to take to protect our name."
Voet was charged Saturday and is being held in Lille after French customs officials in the French-Belgian border town of Neuville-en-Ferrain found approximately 400 vials of anabolic steroids such as EPO (erythropoetin) in his possession Thursday.
EPO is used to increase the capacity of red blood cells to retain oxygen and is difficult to detect in drug tests.
Three types of EPO, made in Switzerland and Germany, were found, in addition to some steroids.
Voet continues to maintain that the drugs were for his own personal use.
Voet is the personal helper of Richard Virenque who finished second in the 1997 tour.
According to police sources, Voet had driven from Switzerland to Germany then into Belgium.
Earlier this year Festina rider Christophe Moreau returned two positive tests for steroids after he won the Criterium International three-day race in March and Moreau has yet to face an inquiry. A team helper was sacked.
Police raided the team's headquarters in Lyon on Saturday and apparently took substances for testing, it has not been confirmed whether the police found any banned substances on the premises.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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