A court has ordered the French cycling federation to pay Christophe Bassons €31,691 to settle a case stemming from an anti-doping suspension he was given in 2012 when current UCI President David Lappartient was head of the French governing body.
The Court of Appeal of the Administrative Court sentenced the Fédération Française de Cyclisme to compensate Bassons, 44, for damages stemming from the one-year suspension it handed down for a technical anti-doping violation when he missed a post-race doping control at the French marathon mountain bike championships in September of 2012.
Bassons, who was an outspoken critic of cycling's doping culture during his professional road racing career from 1996 to 2001, sued for damages. He won the initial case in 2016, but the federation appealed.
Bassons was a member of the Festina team from 1996 to 1998 but refused to take part in the squad’s systematic doping programme. In 1999, Bassons abandoned his one-and-only Tour de France after a number of riders, including Lance Armstrong, made clear their dissatisfaction with the anti-doping sentiments he made in his column for Le Monde. Disillusioned with his treatment by many of his fellow professionals, Bassons retired in 2001, although he continued to compete in mountain biking events.
On that September day in 2012, Bassons abandoned the race 20 kilometres from the finish but did not go to the finish area before travelling home. He was only informed that he had been selected for doping control two-and-a-half hours later while he was on the road to his home in Bordeaux, by which time it was too late to return and undergo the test.
The French federation gave him a one-year suspension for the missed test, saying at the time that Bassons had not been singled out for enforcement and even had his suspension reduced.
“The national disciplinary committee who examined the dossier did nothing other than apply the rules by suspending the athlete for this offence," the federation said at the time. The FFC also noted that the normal penalty for a missed control is a two-year ban, but in Bassons' case the sanction was reduced to a year following his explanation.
“The FFC wishes to underline that Mr. Christophe Bassons was judged like any other rider, and his suspension has no link to his recent declarations in the press or to the positions he has taken against doping,” the federation said. “The FFC has the same determination as he does to eradicate this serious scourge which is polluting the sport of cycling.”
The courts disagreed with the federation's action, however, and in 2016 ordered the federation to pay Bassons €27,200. The federation appealed to the Court of Appeal of the Administrative Court, which ruled in favor of Bassons and awarded him €31,691 (plus €1,500 in legal fees).