Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc has appreciated the actions taken by various teams in the light of the serious accusations against some of their riders. T-Mobile suspended its leader Jan Ullrich, on Friday morning, which Leblanc called "a courageous move and a good example for the other directeurs sportifs."
The former bike racer and journalist, wo was already in his current position in 1998 when the Festina scandal rocked the race, was ready to 'clean up the peloton' if the teams did not do it by themselves. "We will ask the teams concerend to apply the ethical charter that they've signed and to expel the implicated riders," Leblanc continued. "If they don't, we will do it ourselves."
Even though this will mean that many teams will be reduced in number - as excluded riders will not be replaced - the Tour de France will get underway tomorrow, Saturday. ""Why shouldn't it?" asked Leblanc. "If the Spanish judiciary told us that, of the 200 riders starting in the Tour, there were 150 riders on their lists, we would have to think about it. But at the moment, there are only 5 or 6 riders (sic) that are concerned."
Leblanc still looks forward to the Tour de France, which will be his last one as director of the race. "I hope we can all start serenely on Saturday," he continued. "This is an organised mafia that spreads doping practices. I hope we can clean up everything now; all the cheats should be kicked out. then, maybe, we will get an open Tour with clean riders; a Tour in which there is space for ethics, sport and entertainment."