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Roussel: I'm responsible

Festina's team director says he had no knowledge drug use

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Posted: Wednesday July 22, 1998 10:00 AM

  Roussel: "It is incumbent on me as team director to assume responsibility for everything, including that which I neither saw nor knew about" AP

LILLE, France (CNN/SI) -- Festina's team director Bruno Roussel who was suspended from this year's Tour de France on July 16, and whose team was expelled from the tour July 17 acknowledged that he was responsible for his team's behavior Tuesday.

"It is incumbent on me as team director to assume responsibility for everything, including that which I neither saw nor knew about," Roussel said.

Roussel also called for clearer laws on banned substances.

Festina's masseur was arrested earlier this month on a charge of smuggling doping supplies.

Referring to his admission to police that he provided doping substances for his team, "It was no longer possible at this point to try to be clever when caught between a silence that didn't convince anyone any more and the insinuations and rumors that made everyone suspect" Roussel said.

"I am not in a situation that gives me the right to tell others what to do" he added. "But I would say, in view of what I am now experiencing and the criticism that has been directed at me, that we must have clear rules and that everyone at every level makes sure they are respected."

Roussel, now being held for questioning in Lille, asked in his statement whether "we have the right to demand athletes to give performances that go beyond the limits of a cyclist's capacities."

Festina riders, now out of the tour, could be called before an investigating judge before the end of the week, police said.

Team leader Richard Virenque, world champion Laurent Brochard, Swiss Laurent Dufaux and Alex Zuelle are set to give evidence to Judge Patrick Keil. Virenque said last Saturday he was unaware of any doping in the team.

Festina masseur Willy Voet was arrested at the France-Belgium border earlier this month on a charge of smuggling doping substances.

Police have said they will be looking closely into the accounts of the Festina company which is based in Andorra.

Meanwhile, investigators are puzzled by the quantity of products seized in Voet's car. Some 400 doses were seized on July 8 from the vehicle.

The investigation coincides with a case in Reims involving the discovery last March of doping substances in a car belonging to the Dutch cycling team TVM.

In Paris, two members of Parliament have called for the creation of an official investigating body on doping.

 

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Reuters contributed to this report.



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