Updated: Nothing found in search, bus to be released
French police and customs officers have seized the Quick Step team bus, a spokesman for the Belgian team has confirmed to Cyclingnews.
The police turned up at the Quick Step hotel late on Friday afternoon and asked for the chauffer of the bus. They then took the bus to the police station in La Roche-sur-Yon, 50km from the Quick Step hotel and half way between the French coast and Mont des Alouettes, where the first stage of the Tour de France will finish on Saturday.
L'Equipe later reported that the team had been tipped off to the search before it happened, and that nothing suspicious was found on the bus and it is to be released back to the team tonight.
It is believed that the police had written legal permission to seize the bus but the Quick Step claimed they do not known the motive for the police action.
"The team wants to specify that no other team vehicle underwent any searches. The team feels' deeply harmed by the consequent media focus on what happened today, which we feel has damaged the team's image and the image of cycling in general," a statement read.
According to L'Equipe, the actions stem from an investigation by the Angers police and the French Central Office against Environmental Damage and Public Health (Office Central de Lutte Contre les Atteintes à l'Environnement et à la Santé Publique OCLAESP), the same group which searched Tour de France medical waste in 2009. Those searches allegedly came up with illegal transfusion equipment, but the charges against Astana and Caisse d'Epargne were eventually dropped after the investigation ground to a halt.
On Wednesday it was reported that several team vehicles were searched by police at a toll station north of Nantes. It was believed these were carried out as a consequence of the investigation of former Lotto rider Wim Vansevenant in Belgium after police there intercepted a package containing the banned drug TB-500. Wim Vansevenant claimed the drugs were for his own use and not destined for the riders at the Omega Pharma-lotto team.
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