While France awaits the announcement of the team for the upcoming World Championships, Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli, who has an incredible 59 national and 13 world titles to her name, has become entangled in a headline grabbing doping investigation. Just a few days after it was announced that she failed to provide appropriate information on her whereabouts three times within 18 months, risking a two-year suspension, reports in French newspaper L'Equipe suggest that Longo-Ciprelli's husband and coach bought EPO via the internet.
The events date back to April 2007, with L'Equipe publishing emails exchanges between Joe Papp, a Chinese contact and Ciprelli. Papp himself has confirmed the dealings in an interview with L'Equipe and the delivery of EPO to Yolande Ciprelli, a close relative of the couple who lives very near their home in the French Alps.
A police investigation cannot be opened against Ciprelli because of a three-year statute of limitations for the alleged crimes. There is also no direct proof that Longo used the EPO that was sent to France from China. However the damning evidence published by L'Equipe is a further blow to Longo's credibility.
"Ciprelli did not mention her name, but he talked of his wife," Papp told L'Equipe. "I understood that Longo was the beneficiary of the EPO, based on the messages. But he insisted to pay for it himself and that the package should be sent to a third person."
The French Cycling Federation moved quickly to investigate the reports in L'Equipe, announcing the opening of a formal investigation and suspending Patrice Ciprelli as a coach. Both Longo-Ciprelli and Ciprelli have yet to comment on the reports.