Blijlevens: 'Racers have no rights'
Despite drug tests, TVM team races Wednesday
Posted: Wednesday July 29, 1998 11:36 AM
ALBERTVILLE, France (CNN/SI) -- The Dutch TVM team decided to continue racing Wednesday even after several of their riders Tuesday were taken to a hospital in Albertville where they underwent blood, urine and capillary tests.
"Despite fatigue, the racers will start," Guido van Calster, one of the officials of the TVM team said. "We're keeping our moral up. I am very proud of my racers."
The cyclists from TVM were tested for illegal substances, the same day French authorities placed two top team officials under formal investigation for allegedly supplying racers with EPO, a performance enhancing drug.
Jeroen Blijlevens, one of the TVM racers, said the TVM racers were very tired emotionally. "For myself, I am exhausted." He also said that the cyclists had only been allowed to return to their hotel around midnight.
Blijlevens railed against French authorities, saying they were conducting a "witch-hunt" against the racers. "French justice can do whatever it wants. The racers have no rights."
He also said TVM's cyclists had been told to report to French authorities in Reims on Monday morning, the day after the tour ends.
Police also interrogated Henrik Redant, a TVM official, most of the night before releasing him Wednesday morning. Ian Moors, in whose suitcase drugs were found, remained in custody.
Sporting director Cees Priem and team doctor Andrei Mikhailov, who were put under investigation Tuesday, are likely to be formally charged.
TVM came under the spotlight when it emerged that EPO had been found in the car of one of its officials in March.
Police then found evidence of used drugs in a suitcase and trash can during a search of the team's hotel in Toulouse and Metz, though the nature of the drugs is still not known.
Meanwhile, a third team has been caught up in the doping scandal that has trailed the Tour de France.
French police Tuesday seized suspect medication in a van driven by officials of the Bigmat team in Chambery, on the Franco-Swiss border near Albertville, where the cyclists arrived after the 16th stage of the competition.
Around 100 doses of medication were found in briefcases among the team's bags during a routine inspection by customs officials, police said.
The drugs were sent to a police laboratory in the city of Lyon for analysis, police said.
France Info radio, citing unidentified judicial sources, reported that the medication was a banned substance. The radio also said the Bigmat cyclists underwent testing Wednesday morning.Festina was been expelled from the race after the team director Bruno Roussel admitted EPO had been used.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.