Bahrain Victorious shut down questions about Tour de France police raids

Bahrain Victorious faced questions about the police raids before the Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Bahrain Victorious offered no further details about the police raids on the hotel in Copenhagen on Thursday morning, refusing to answer questions on the matter during what turned out to be a very short pre-race Tour de France press conference.

Matej Mohoric, Jack Haig and performance manager Vladimir Miholjević appeared via video, just as all the 22 teams traditionally do in the build-up to the race. Miholjević set out a carefully-scripted position but made it clear they would not respond to questions about the investigation.

“We would like to share more information about the investigation but we have nothing more to say than was already said in our press release," he said.

“We’d like to have more details from the investigators so we can understand such action. At this moment the team is fully focused on the biggest cycling race in front of us and on achieving our goals over the next three weeks. So Matej Mohorič and Jack Haig will only be answering about cycling and the race itself.”

The team have already stated that the 2022 searches of rider's and staff member's homes on Monday and Thursday's searches are all linked to the ongoing French police investigation that was launched into the squad during last year’s Tour. 

Last year in Pau, 50 police officers searched on the team hotel, seizing medicines, laptops and phones. Last October the team shrugged off suggestions that hair testing on three of their riders searched by French police during the Tour have discovered traces of the powerful muscle relaxant Tizanidine. The substance is not prohibited by the World Anti-Doping Agency but the test results could indicate off-label use of the medicine.

No charges have been made a year after the initial raid and the team has denied any wrong-doing, but with the Tour less than a day away, the team is facing questions it refuses to answer.

"No items were seized from the team," the team had made clear in a statement when it emerged that the team’s hotel rooms and vehicles were searched on Thursday morning.

The Bahrain Victorious press officer reiterated the team’s stance during the afternoon press conference and asked for sporting questions but the subject of the police raids remained.  

“If we can’t ask about the investigation directly, can I ask about the impact of having police in the hotel at 5 a.m. for riders at the Tour de France?” a Belgian journalist asked.

The reply was direct and firm: “We only want to talk about race stuff,” Miholjević said.

The team’s press officer asked if there were any sporting questions but there were none others from the 30 or so media following the press conference via the Zoom platform.

VeloNews posted a written question, asking how confident the team were that they would start the Tour.

Mohorič, wearing a face mask, seemed to laugh at that question but did not answer. Jack Haig simply said “you can answer that” to Miholjević.

“Look, we have no reason to doubt on that,” Miholjević said.

After a final appeal for sporting questions, the press conference ended after just eight minutes, without any further explanation about the investigation or about the sporting ambitions of Bahrain Victorious at the 2022 Tour de France.

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Stephen Farrand