By Agence France Presse
French police on Thursday searched the offices of the weekly news magazine Le Point and the sports daily L’Equipe in connection with a doping affair that rocked French cycling team Cofidis last year.
Journalists at the two publications said police led by investigating magistrates spent several hours in their offices. At Le Point, police seized two computers and ordered two journalists to report for questioning.
At L’Equipe, journalists declined to reveal whether any equipment had been seized during the search.
Sources close to the investigation said the searches were linked to an investigation of possible leaks within the police force of information about the drugs affair, which saw the team accused of widespread doping.
Police were trying to determine whether narcotics investigators had illegally given information about the probe to journalists at Le Point and L’Equipe, the sources said.
In April last year, L’Equipe published a full-page article with transcripts of statements given to police by several Cofidis riders. Eight were eventually placed under formal investigation in connection with the doping allegations.
Cofidis management filed suit against L’Equipe, but a French court determined that the paper’s journalists were not legally bound to respect the confidential nature of the testimony.
“Revealing our sources is absolutely impossible, because if a journalist starts revealing his sources, he is no longer worthy of performing the job,” said Franz-Olivier Giesbert, chairman of Le Point.
“All we have done is our job of informing the public, and we’ll continue to do it. All this does not discourage us,” he added.
Cofidis was forced to sack a number of top name riders as a result of the scandal, the biggest of which was Britain’s David Millar, who openly admitted to doping with the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin) during his career.
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