By VeloNews Interactive, Copyright AFP2004
French Sports Minister Jean-Francois Lamour has called a meeting with thecountry’s cycling chiefs in Paris on Friday to discuss the recent doping scandal in the sport and how it will effect preparations for the Athens Olympics this summer.The Minister was speaking as the investigation into doping and drug trafficking within the French team Cofidis widened this week.”I’ve taken the initiative to have a meeting Friday with the presidentof the French cycling federation, the national technical director (DTN),the national team doctor and the president of the professional cyclingleague to discuss the preparations of athletes shortlisted for the OlympicGames,” said Lamour.Lamour insisted that France’s anti-doping laws were “among the best in the world” but called for greater cohesion on a European and internationa; level.”At the international level we’ll be taking an initiative in the coming days,” said Lamour. “We have to be able to carry out spot tests where the athletes train in France or elsewhere in Europe or throughout the world.”Two experienced French riders from the Cofidis team were arrested at Orly airport Tuesday on their return from a training camp.Drugs squad officers detained Cedric Vasseur and Philippe Gaumont asthey stepped off a flight from Alicante, Spain, and took them away forquestioning.Vasseur, 33, won a stage and briefly wore the yellow jersey in the 1997 Tour de France and was later a member of U.S. Postal. Vasseur was at the center of a minor controversy in 2000 when the American team left him, the only Frenchman on the squad, off of its Tour roster (see “Vasseur: Former Postie no Lance fan”). The 30-year-old Gaumont won a bronze medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics but five years later was suspended for doping.Their arrests came after former Cofidis team member Robert Sassone, who won a world track title in 2001, was placed under judicial investigation after a stash of drugs were found in his home during a police search last week.