Ever since Agritubel's Christophe Moreau abandoned the Tour on stage seven from Brioude to Aurillac, the Frenchman's reasons have been questioned. Moreau complained of severe backaches and general fatigue that caused him to quit the race prematurely, to his own great disappointment. What intrigued French media, however, was that his own team management knew nothing of the rider's physical distress in the lead-up to his abandon. Moreover, rumours circulating of 10 to 20 riders in the peloton having irregular blood values prior to the Tour' start did not help Moreau's case.
The Agritubel leader rejected that he was one of the persons notified by the French Anti-Doping Agency AFLD. "The AFLD confirmed it - I am not concerned by this list," said Moreau to L'Equipe on Wednesday. "They're splitting hairs and analysing everything in the wrong way. No, you have to justify yourself when you're winning, but also when you're losing."
Explaining why his neither his team-mates nor team managers knew of his physical problems, Moreau said that it was because of his "pride and stubbornness. I didn't want to deceive anyone as everybody trusted me. They expected so much of me that I was finally caught in my own trap. I hid my problems until the end."
However, French newspaper Le Monde has cast doubts over the former Tour de France stage winner. Confirming that Moreau's blood values did not present any anomalies prior to the Grande Boucle, the paper however alleged that Moreau was sent a letter from the French federation doctor after Paris-Nice this spring. In the letter, the rider was notified of his too low blood cortisol values and asked to stop competing for a while.
Along with hematocrit, haemoglobin and reticulocytes, cortisol is part of the French "suivi longitudinal" anti-doping controls, a system similar to the UCI's blood passport, but that has been in place since 1999. Low cortisol in the blood is said to be directly related to the intake of corticoids, which block the natural production of cortisol. According to Le Monde, Moreau is the only French rider who was notified with a "counter-indication to the practice of cycling" in this way.
Agritubel manager David Fornes meanwhile declared to L'Equipe on Thursday that "Moreau was out of competition after Paris-Nice, but because he was ill. Now, if there are facts against him, show them to me and I will express myself on it."