AG2R-La Mondiale manager Vincent Lavenu has described himself as “ashamed” in the wake of Lloyd Mondory’s positive test for EPO, admitting that the team’s reputation has been severely sullied by its third doping case in a little over two years.
Steve Houanard tested positive for EPO at the tail end of the 2012 season and Sylvain Georges tested positive for the stimulant heptimanol at the 2013 Giro d’Italia, prompting the team to suspend itself from the Critérium du Dauphiné, according to Movement for Credible Cycling regulations.
Mondory returned his positive result in an out-of-competition test performed on February 17, two days after he had finished 7th in the Clasica de Almeria. A tearful Lavenu spoke to reporters about Mondory’s positive test following stage 2 of Paris-Nice.
“I’m ashamed and these tears aren’t going to change anything about it,” Lavenu said, according to RMC. “I think that I’m not capable of doing this job anymore, in these conditions. It’s too hard, there’s too much work, too much commitment. Cycling is my life.”
Lavenu is among the longest-serving team managers in the peloton and he has been at the helm of the Ag2r team – previously Casino and Chazal – since 1992. The team has previously been struck by doping cases including Rodolfo Massi’s arrest at the 1998 Tour de France and Francisco Mancebo’s implication in Operacion Puerto in 2006, but Lavenu described the positive test of Mondory – who has been with the team for his entire professional career – as a betrayal.
“We’re betrayed too much. This is the third French rider in three years who has acted the idiot, it’s appalling. It’s a mixture of shame, betrayal and discouragement,” he said. “The team is going to be sullied, and the riders too. That’s not right considering everything that’s been done.”
Mondory turned professional with Ag2r in 2004, after spending time as stagiaire there in 2002 and 2003, while still part of the Jean Floc’h amateur set-up. The 32-year-old has the right to request an analysis of his B-sample, but Lavenu called on him not to dispute the case.
“I hope that he’ll have the courage to tell the truth and that he won’t hide behind ‘No, I don’t know, I didn’t take it,’” Lavenu said. “It can’t happen like that, it’s not possible. It’s 12 years that he’s been with us, this boy.”