Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Doctor arrested, BigMat cyclists questioned, possible EPO link

Arnold Jeannesson has expressed dismay
at becoming associated with the case
(image credit: Jejecam CC BY-SA 3.0)
L'Equipe, the French sports newspaper, is reporting that former BigMat-Auber93 team doctor Philippe Bedoucha has been arrested and is being questioned with regard to suspicions he may have supplied EPO and/or an un-named growth hormone to riders.

Original reports stated that the doctor is currently employed by the team, an error reproduced here. It is now understood that Dr. Bedoucha is not connected to BigMat-Auber93 and has not been employed by the outfit since 2010. It is believed that he is suspected of supplying banned products to amateur cyclists.

A mountain biker is also reported to be under arrest in connection with the investigation, but it's not clear if this is in connection with use or supply. Some sources claim it to be Philippe Tellier, who has previously tested positive for EPO.

It is believed that as many as twelve other riders have also be questioned under caution, including the French star Arnold Jeannesson; though as the article points out they mat be providing witness statements and this should not be seen as indication that the riders will face either suspicions or charges. Jeannesson has since stated that he has not been able to provide police with any information and expressed dismay at being associated with the case.

Dr. Bedoucha is listed as operating from an address in Rue Cheret at a premises occupied by a pharmacy and a phytotherapie (a "pharmacy" supplying products based on natural ingredients and herbs) in Creteil - the riders were also questioned in the Paris suburb.

One possible - and serious - outcome of the investigation is that BigMat, who recently withdrew funding from Garmin-Cervélo, leaving the women's team in a precarious position, are now likely to face bad press; despite no longer maintaining connections with the doctor. This may prove to have a detrimental effect when other companies are considering sponsoring a cycle team and could persuade them not to become involved even if the team in question have an impeccable record.

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