The French Cycling Federation (FFC) has defended its decision to hand Christophe Bassons a one-year suspension after he missed a post-race doping control at the French marathon mountain bike championships on September 1.
Bassons abandoned the race 20 kilometres from the finish but did not go to the finish area before travelling home. He was only informed that he had been selected for doping control two and a half hours later, while he was on the road to his home in Bordeaux, by which time it was too late to return and undergo the test. On Saturday, Bassons revealed that he had been given a one-year suspension for missing the test.
“Following all of the comments surrounding the suspension of Mr. Christophe Bassons for a missed anti-doping control, the French Cycling Federation notes that this rider infringed on anti-doping rules by not presenting himself for an anti-doping control for which he had been selected,” the FFC said in a statement late on Saturday.
“The national disciplinary committee who examined the dossier did nothing other than apply the rules by suspending the athlete for this offence.”
The FFC also noted that the normal penalty for a missed control is a two-year ban, but that in this instance the sanction was reduced to a year “following the explanation offered by Mr. Christophe Bassons.” FFC president David Lappartient will examine the possibilities of appeal in the coming days.
Bassons was a member of the Festina team but famously refused to partake in the squad’s systematic doping programme. 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.
Disillusioned with his treatment by many of his fellow professionals, Bassons retired in 2001 and he currently works for the ministry of youth and sport in the Aquitaine region.
“The FFC wishes to underline that Mr. Christophe Bassons was judged like any other rider and his suspension has no link to his recent declarations in the press or to the positions he has taken against doping,” the federation statement said. “The FFC has the same determination as he does to eradicate this serious scourge which is polluting the sport of cycling.”