Following the UCI’s confirmation of Sylvain Georges’ positive test for the banned stimulant heptaminol, the Ag2r La Mondiale team has announced it will not be taking part in next month’s Critérium du Dauphiné, which is the Savoie-based team’s home event. However, the French team is still hopeful that it will be able to line up in the Tour of Switzerland, which starts six days after the Dauphiné.
Under the rules of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), to which Ag2r belongs, any member team that has two positives within 12 months must suspend itself from racing for eight days as of the start of the next WorldTour race. Georges’ positive sample was delivered on May 10 at the Giro d’Italia, which came on the back of Steve Houanard’s positive test for EPO last September. Consequently, Ag2r team manager Vincent Lavenu has said the team will comply with the MPCC’s rules and miss the Dauphiné, which is the next WorldTour event.
“It’s not a question of not having a choice, but simply of doing the right thing,” Lavenu told L’Équipe. “We’ve always done the Dauphiné and this is a big loss for us.”
Having being forced to miss out on what is his team’s second-biggest objective of the season after the Tour de France, Lavenu indicated the team will consider other options, which are very likely to include the Swiss national tour. Although the start of this race also falls within the eight-day period set out in the MPCC’s rules, it is believed the penalty only applies to a single race.
Lavenu expressed his hope that Georges’ positive after taking an over-the-counter remedy to boost circulation in his legs would not jeopardise the team’s relationship with their long-term sponsor. “I am hoping the confidence they’ve put in me and the team won’t be tainted by this. Once again, the mistake that’s been made is not a collective one, and there’s no question of us having to clear our name.”
Ag2r leader Jean-Christophe Péraud acknowledged the team’s absence from the Dauphiné will impact on their Tour preparation, but added. “The self-suspension is the right thing to do because it shows that Ag2r La Mondiale are prepared to stick firmly to their convictions. Houanard committed a serious error and Sylvain made a mistake in his professional conduct, and those facts can’t be changed.” Peraud confirmed he is planning to ride the Tour of Switzerland.