AG2R-La Mondiale manager Vincent Lavenu has already described his shame after his rider Lloyd Mondory tested positive for EPO, today it was the turn of his remaining riders to have their say. Team leader Romain Bardet posted a statement on his Facebook page condemning his teammate’s actions, while Samuel Dumoulin read a joint letter from the riders ahead of stage 3 of Paris-Nice.
“I am deeply affected by the announcement of this positive case which leaves us all dumbfounded. I have no words strong enough to condemn this type of conduct that endangers all. The efforts made by our team and by our authorities to lend credibility to our practice,” wrote Bardet.
On Tuesday, the UCI announced that Mondory had returned an adverse analytical finding for EPO after an out of competition test, two days after he competed at the Clasica de Almeria.
Mondory and Bardet have been teammates since 2012, both having spent their entire careers with the French team. The two had only competed together once this season at the GP Marseillaise, at the beginning of February. Bardet, who took sixth at last year’s Tour de France, finished his post by trying to find the positives before apologising to cycling fans.
"This is a major new blow, just another say the fatalists, one too many for the vast majority of the peloton, who should not have to answer for the mistakes of a few individuals. I still believe in my sport and my progression within the international peloton bolsters me in my approach. I am deeply sorry for you also, lovers of cycling, collateral victims of the stupidity of a few on the definition and the values of sport in general.
"Now, with a further enhanced solidarity, we must work to assert our vision of cycling. A sport that is healthy, exemplary and above all inspiring for the younger generations," Bardet concluded.
Bardet wasn’t the only member of the team to comment on the doping case, AG2R’s second for EPO in recent years. The team assembled at the start Wednesday’s stage of Paris-Nice, with an emotional Dumoulin reading a letter that they had composed together. BMC’s Amaël Moinard joined them as it was read out.
"We feel badly for our team, our family but also for the French cycling and the entirety of cycling. All these years fighting for our image, which again has been tarnished by the inconsistency of those who prefer to believe that cheating is greater than having the humility to accept their weaknesses,” he said according to L’Équipe.
“We do not want to bury our heads and continue this fight because the truth is that this sport is beautiful, and the men and women who practice it have integrity. For us, the wound will take time to heal but because we received the public support of many of our colleagues and followers of our partners, we are determined to continue our journey, true to our values.”
Mondory, who has been provisionally suspended by the team, has not spoken as he awaits the result of the B Sample. He could face up to a four-year ban after new WADA regulations came into effect this year.