Two Ukrainian riders arrested in France

Tour de l'Avenir participants charged with posession of products illegal in France

Two members of the Ukrainian national team competing at the Tour de l'Avenir have been taken into custody, charged with possession of pharmaceutical products illegal in France, judicial authorities in Vesoul, France, have announced.

Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported that the two, as yet unidentified riders, were arrested on Saturday in Besançon, charged with "possession of and smuggling of products whose sale is banned in France."  The whole team subsequently withdrew from the race, and none of its riders started the stage eight time trial on Saturday.

The products in question could "certainly be used as doping, but they are not on the list of banned doping products," said Jean-Francois Parietti, attorney of Vesoul.

The arrest of the two riders followed the arrest on Friday of the father of one of the riders and the team's physiotherapist. The latter two were stopped by customs officials in Sauveur and were allegedly found to be in possession of suspect products and syringes.

While the names of the substances discovered on Friday and Saturday are yet to be officially released, Het Nieuwsblad identified one of the products as Actovegin, a calf-blood derivative designed to enhance recovery from injury or trauma.

Although Actovegin is not listed on the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) list of banned substances, the sale and importation of the drug is illegal in France.

The Ukrainian team for the Tour de l'Avenir was: Artem Topchanyuk, Yehor Dementyev, Yuriy Agarkov, Oleksandr Grygorenko, Mykhaylo Kononenko and Dimitri Chuzhda.

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