Christophe Bassons has been handed a one-year suspension by the French Cycling Federation after he missed a post-race doping control at the marathon mountain bike event at the French championships in Langon on September 1.
A noted anti-doping advocate following his experiences at Festina, where he refused to partake in the team’s systematic doping programme, Bassons explained that he missed the control in error.
“I abandoned the race 20km from the finish. When I stopped, someone from the organisation asked for my name, noted the number on my dossard and then informed the race commissaire,” Bassons told L’Équipe. “I recognise that it was an error not to wait until the end of the race to see if my name appeared on the list of riders who were to be controlled.
“I got on the road home to Bordeaux and it was only two and a half hours after my abandon that I got a phone call from the race timekeeper to tell me that I had to do a control. It was too late to get back to the site of the race.”
In 1999, Bassons abandoned his one and only Tour de France after a number of riders, including Lance Armstrong, made clear their dissatisfaction with his anti-doping sentiments in a column for Le Monde.
The 38-year-old Frenchman retired from professional cycling in 2001 and currently works for the ministry of youth and sport in the Aquitaine region.
Bassons is understood to be considering an appeal against the FFC sanction. “Why wasn’t I informed much earlier about the test? Why such a heavy sanction? I don’t understand,” he said.