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Team Bahrain Victorious co-operate as doping probe continues

Tour de France

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Tadej Pogacar savours his win. Credit: Daniel Cole

Tadej Pogacar savours his win. Credit: Daniel Cole

AP

Tadej Pogacar savours his win. Credit: Daniel Cole

French authorities have announced that a preliminary investigation is under way into doping allegations made against Bahrain Victorious after their hotel and team bus were searched at the Tour de France on Wednesday night.

The team issued a statement on Thursday morning acknowledging the search of both the hotel and the team bus, saying that the police had requested copies of training files.

The Marseille prosecutor’s office said the raid was part of an investigation launched on July 3 into the possible “acquisition, transportation, possession and importing of a prohibited substance or method for use by an athlete without justification by members of Team Bahrain Victorious, currently in action at the 2021 Tour de France”.

A statement added: “The preliminary investigation is continuing to determine the reality or not of the offenses that justified its initiation.

“The existence of this investigation and the operations carried out do not in any way predict the existence of criminal offenses. Anyone suspected or prosecuted is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Last month, Bahrain Victorious general manager Milan Erzen defended the team after anonymous allegations were published in French newspaper Le Parisien following successes in the Giro d’Italia and the Criterium du Dauphine.

It is understood several officers took part in the search at the hotel, which continued into the early hours of Thursday morning, although no arrests were made. In a statement, the team’s technical director Vladimir Miholjevic said: “Following stage 17, we were greeted by several French police officers. We were not given a warrant to read through, but the team complied with all the officers’ requests. We are committed to (the) highest level of professionalism and adherence to all regulatory requirements and will always be cooperating in a professional manner. The process had impacted our riders; recovery and meal planning and as a professional team, the wellbeing of our team is a key priority.”

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Tadej Pogacar celebrated stage victory in yellow for a second day in a row and can surely soon start toasting a second consecutive title after another dominant display.

In a mirror image of Wednesday’s finale, Pogacar raced clear of Jonas Vingegaard and Richard Carapaz in the final few hundred metres of the climb to Luz Ardiden as the top three came home in the same order as their positions in the overall standings.

The victory moved Pogacar to the top of the king of the mountains classification, putting him in line to arrive into Paris as the owner of three of the four race jerseys - yellow, the polka dots, and the best young rider’s white - for a second year in a row.

It also made him only the fourth rider in Tour history to win on consecutive summit finishes.


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