Thursday 30 June 2011

Vansevenant mystery deepends

The Wim Vansevenant doping investigation takes a new twist this morning with doubts raised over what was in the package addressed to the ex-professional Belgian cyclist which was confiscated by customs officials two weeks ago. The three-time Lanterne Rouge was questioned by police for four hours on Tuesday and claims that he believed the package - which he has admitted was for him - contained legal amino acids and saying that he has been told the contents haven't been analysed to ascertain what they actually are.

He has also re-emphasised that the substances, whatever they were, were not intended for anyone else other than himself. Meanwhile, the team have taken further steps to disassociate themselves from him - he was due to drive one of their VIP coaches in France during the upcoming Tour but has been relieved of this duty. Now, Omega leader Philippe Gilbert has gone on record stating that Vansevenant has only limited links to the team: "I want to affirm in the strongest possible way that this story has absolutely nothing to do with me or my team," he said. "Trying to link this person with us has come from the imagination of someone whose intentions are misplaced."

Unfortnuately, it's probably too late for that regardless of who the package's contents were meant for and even of whether it contained amino acids or illicit doping products - only those with an interest in professional cycling will read today's developments in their newspapers. The rest of the world has seen the terms "doping" and "Tour de France" in the same headline and that's all it takes for cycling's image to be further blackened.

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