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Di Gregorio cleared to race and threatens to sue Cofidis

By:
Brecht Decaluwé
Published:
April 09, 2013, 16:25 BST,
Updated:
April 09, 2013, 17:24 BST
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Rémy Di Gregorio (Cofidis) wins the final stage of the Vuelta Asturias.

Rémy Di Gregorio (Cofidis) wins the final stage of the Vuelta Asturias.

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Substances found at the Tour were vitamins

Rémy di Gregorio has been cleared to race by the Court of Appeal in Aix en Provence, France. During the first rest day of the 2012 Tour de France, the French rider was arrested by the police after a raid in the team’s hotel in Bourg-en-Bresse. However L'Equipe have reported that although the French rider may race again, his investigation has not been formally closed yet.

The French authorities found suspicious products in a car which they linked to the rider. The then 26-year-old rider was provisionally suspended and eventually released by his Cofidis team. As it turns out the suspicious products ended up being nothing but vitamins. After learning about the verdict, Di Gregorio broke the silence for the first time since he was arrested in July.

“I never doped,” Di Gregorio stated. “I’m still at the same weight of an active rider. I could even ride the Tour de France.”

The Marseille citizen emphasized his innocence and expressed his hope to return to competition in an interview with newspaper La Provence. The highlight of Di Gregorio’s career so far came in 2011 when he won stage 7 of Paris-Nice.

“It still hurts that I’ve been punished for so long although I’m relieved that it’s finally over. I was very upset by all the accusations in the media which described me as a villain. It damaged my reputation in the sport. It was a shock wave. That’s why I must say: I never doped! Ever since I was arrested we held our stance.

“Today, I’m relieved that I’m recognized again as a sportsman and that I can continue my career since the discovered products were analyzed by several experts and determined not to be doping but vitamins,” Di Gregorio told La Provence. “The contents were banal really, like Paracetamol, vitamin C... it was a terrible confusion. Now I can finally get back to work, continue with my passion.”

When asked how he could explain the raid from the French police which obviously was instructed based on something, Di Gregorio repeated his innocence. “I’ve never doped. I rode for teams like FDJ and Cofidis which use the biological passport to attract riders. There were never any abnormalities in these documents. I was tested several times and I’ve never tested positive. Apparently some wanted to show that Di Gregorio doped himself, they found no evidence whatsoever.”

The 27-year-old Frenchman explains that the vox populi didn’t favour him. The police linked some information to the possibility that cyclists might dope. They tapped phones and interpreted the content of those as possibly related to doping. Soon after that Di Gregorio found himself in the middle of a storm. “Imagine the impact of such an arrest during the Tour de France. I was besmirched. Out on the streets people turned their heads and said, there’s Di Gregorio, the trafficker of the Tour. It’s hard.”

Di Gregorio emphasized that nothing suspicious happened at Astana and that he felt let down by his Cofidis team. “For them I was guilty. Case closed. I will sue them because I suffered enormously, both financially and morally. It was a nightmare and I went through all states of mind. Luckily I had the support of my family. I always kept training and I want to ride the Tour again. I’ve been forced out through the back door. There’s nothing worse than that. I’ll come back one day and with ambitions. I’ll do it for my family,” Di Gregorio said, not fearing to start again from scratch. “I’m not afraid of it. Physically, I have confidence in myself. I’ve always believed in myself.”

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