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French Postal investigation may soon be over

The doping investigation into the U.S. Postal team may be near its completion after judicial sources in Paris said Friday that the case "was going nowhere." The team headed by three-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and has been under investigation since tapes produced by a France 3 television crew were released in November 2000. The tapes showed Postal team staff disposing of a bag of medical waste at a highway rest stop during that year’s Tour de France. After the Postal team car left the area, the television crew retrieved the bag and eventually turned it over to investigators.

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By VeloNews Interactive wire services , Copyright AFP2002

The doping investigation into the U.S. Postal team may be near its completion after judicial sources in Paris said Friday that the case “was going nowhere.”

The team headed by three-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and has been under investigation since tapes produced by a France 3 television crew were released in November 2000. The tapes showed Postal team staff disposing of a bag of medical waste at a highway rest stop during that year’s Tour de France.

After the Postal team car left the area, the television crew retrieved the bag and eventually turned it over to investigators. Among the items in the bag were bandages and empty packages of a bovine hemo-derivative marketed under the name of Actovegin. Though not specifically banned by the UCI, its use is banned under anti-doping provisions that prevent riders from chemically or pharmacologically altering their blood.

Postal team officials confirmed that staff members had used Actovegin, but denied that any of the teams riders had. According to Francois Franchi, head of the non-financial organized crime division in Paris, it now seems the team will be cleared of all blame as the court simply doesn’t have enough evidence to prosecute.

“Legally we have nothing to establish there has been drug use,” Franchi told the French wire service AFP. “The tests done have not been sufficient to trace the molecule used if there has been drugs use. The inquiry is going nowhere and it will need to be wound-up in the coming weeks.”

Franchi suggested that part of the reason that the investigation has petered out is that Armstrong has been uncooperative.

“In this case we can’t say if there have been drugs used because we couldn’t do all the examinations we would have liked,” Franchi said. “If Lance Armstrong was ready to take a number of exams, we could have come to a conclusion. But he didn’t want to do that, which is within his rights.”