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French agency opens investigation into Europcar

A French prosecutor has confirmed that an investigation into the Europcar team has been opened, according to L'Equipe. The news comes three days before the start of the 2012 Tour de France. Information on the team has been given to the OCLAESP, the body which administers civil doping cases. According to prosecutor Dominique Pérard, the investigation relates to the 2011 Tour de France, but could amount to nothing.

"We open preliminary investigations a lot, and often, they do not lead to anything," Pérard said.

The allegations are reported to involve the use of intravenous solutions of vitamins and the use of corticosteroids. The World Anti-Doping Agency code bans corticosteroids administered by "oral, intravenous, intramuscular or rectal routes" in competition, and limits intravenous infusions to 50mL in cases of all but emergency situations.

The Europcar team had its best ever Tour de France in 2011, with Thomas Voeckler wearing the yellow jersey until the final time trial and Pierre Rolland coming home with a stage win on Alpe d'Huez plus the white jersey of best young rider.

Interviewed by Reuters, Europcar manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau denied the team had engaged in any wrongdoing.

"I have called my lawyer immediately. We have a clear conscience and we will answer every question as we have always done," Bernaudeau said.

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