By VeloNews Interactive, Copyright AFP2004
French cycling chief Jean Pitallier vowed Monday to weed out the hard core of drug takers who continue to drag the sport into disrepute.
The French Cycling Federation (FFC) president admitted in an open letter that despite the organization’s best efforts certain riders were continuing to risk their health and the reputation of the sport by taking banned substances.
“Cycling as a sport is in the media spotlight. The stories are coming in swift succession! From the sordid to the morbid for several weeks and most recently with the cruel and unexplained death of Marco Pantani,” he said.
“Even if the health situation in the French peloton has clearly improved since medical controls were put into place there still exists a reckless fringe which refuses to understand or admit the threat to their own health and the future of their sport. It is to those that I plead – stop before it’s too late.”
Pitallier pointed out that the FFC is united with the UCI and the French sports ministry in the fight against doping, and called on the justice system to show no mercy on the guilty.
“The noose is tightening on those who are causing enormous damage to our sport. We have to show ourselves to be merciless towards them,” he said. “We have to continue to clean up our act and rid cycling of certain individuals who have nothing to do in the sport. I also hope that the justice system imposes sanctions which serve as an example because they remain the best deterrent.”
France’s number one cycling team Cofidis this month sacked rider Philippe Gaumont after he admitted to using the banned blood booster Erythropoietin.
Police questioned Gaumont after the team’s soigneur, Bogdan Madejak, was alleged to have been the mastermind behind a drugs distribution network involving some of the team’s former and current riders.