Laurent Jalabert has issued a statement acknowledging his positive test for EPO at the 1998 Tour de France but has reiterated his previous claims that he had simply followed the instructions of the medical staff at his ONCE team.
Jalabert was one of 18 riders named by the French Senate Commission report on doping on Wednesday as having returned a urine sample positive for EPO at the 1998 Tour. A further 12 samples were reported as suspicious. No test for EPO existed in 1998 but the samples were frozen and retrospectively tested for research purposes in 2004.
That information was passed on to the French Senate Commission this year and the news that Jalabert’s name featured on the list of positive tests from the 1998 Tour was broken by L’Équipe last month.
Jalabert had been called to give evidence before the commission in May, where he denied knowingly using banned substances but also said, “I can’t firmly say that I’ve never taken anything illegal.”
In a statement released on Thursday, Jalabert’s lawyer said that his client acknowledged that his name had been listed in the French Senate Commission’s report.
“His name is cited. He acknowledges this state of fact,” read the statement. “In keeping with his declarations before the senatorial commission of inquiry, he reiterates that he followed the prescriptions of the medical staff at his successive teams.
“Although no element of law has been officially notified to him, Laurent Jalabert today assumes responsibility for it and bears the consequences.”
Jalabert, who retired from racing at the end of 2002, served as French national coach from 2009 until April of this year. He also worked as a pundit for both RTL and France Télévisions, but he stepped down from those roles ahead of this year’s Tour de France following the revelation of his 1998 positive test.
In the statement released on Thursday, Jalabert’s lawyer said that his client “regrets that through the excesses of a past period, the image of contemporary cycling and that of the Tour de France have again been besmirched when he has always worked to promote them.”