Mickaël Larpe from the Continental team Roubaix-Lille-Métropole has tested positive for EPO, the French professional league announced today, just 10 hours after the police raided his house in Angoulême. The Frenchman faces a two-year ban and an inquiry is ongoing about trafficking of doping products.
Larpe, 24, returned a positive sample when he was tested by the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) at the Cholet-Pays de Loire race on March 21.
A few days later, a controversy was made public as the AFLD wasn't supposed to conduct tests in French professional bike races. French cycling federation president David Lappartient criticised the initiative since the UCI is the only governing body entitled to test pro cyclists on French soil this year. "This is illegal," Lappartient said.
The AFLD targeted several members of the Roubaix-Lille-Métropole team. Some riders were tested the day before the race and once again the day after the race. The UCI, however, has agreed to validate the tests made by the AFLD.
Larpe is the first French cyclist to test positive this year. The 24-year-old Frenchman is in his fourth year with Roubaix-Lille-Métropole and his best result was a second place at the 2009 GP de Plumelec-Morbihan, a race organised by Lappartient. Larpe is the son of Michel Larpe who was himself a professional cyclist with La Redoute from 1981 to 1983.