French cycling team Arkea-Samsic has vowed to take decisive action if an investigation into suspected doping offences during the Tour de France finds evidence of wrong-doing.
The team’s general manager Emmanuel Hubert confirmed that the team’s hotel was searched by police last week, midway through the Tour which concluded in Paris on Sunday, where UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar was crowned the winner. A statement from Hubert added that a preliminary investigation opened by the public prosecutor’s office in Marseille was not focused “directly” on the Arkea-Samsic team.
The statement read: “A search did take place last week in our hotel, as I have already confirmed to various media. It concerned only a very limited number of riders, as well as their close entourage, not employed by the team.
“The team, its general manager as well as its staff, currently mentioned in the media are absolutely not questioned and consequently have not been kept informed of any element relating to the progress of the investigation, which I remind you that it is not targeting either the team or its staff directly.
“We obviously support our riders, but if it turns out that at the end of the current investigation evidence confirms the the veracity of doping practices, the team will immediately dissociate itself from such acts and take without delay the necessary measures to put an end to any link with unacceptable and always opposed methods.”
Hubert had earlier confirmed to various outlets in France that hotel rooms being used by the team had been searched on Wednesday in Meribel.
According to reports in France, two individuals have been taken into custody in relation to the investigation.Arkea-Samsic, a pro-continental team that competed in the Tour with a wildcard entry, was led in the race by Colombian star Nairo Quintana.
The 30-year-old – who had three times finished on the podium in previous Tours – suffered a crash on stage 13 and then cracked on the Grand Colombier two days later before finishing 17th overall, his lowest finish in a Grand Tour since the 2012 Vuelta a Espana.
World governing body the UCI said it had been in contact with the police service which is leading the investigation as well as the Cycling Anti-Doping Federation and would offer its support.
A statement read: “The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that it has been in communication with the Central Office for the Fight against Environmental and Public Health Damage (OCLAESP) and the Cycling Antidoping Foundation (CADF) as part of the legal operations carried out by the French authorities on the sidelines of the Tour de France.
“The UCI welcomes and supports the action of all parties involved and will take the appropriate measures once it has taken note of the information obtained by the French legal authorities.” READ MOREPep Guardiola says Man City squad is stretched to its limit