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French court convicts 23 in doping ring

Former cycling coach Belgian Freddy Sergant was sentenced to four years in jail on Monday by a Bordeaux court for his involvement in a doping ring that supplied a cocktail of amphetamines, cocaine and heroin to riders in France and Belgium, according to reports from Reuters and the Associated Press. The sentencing comes amid the Operacion Puerto doping scandal that threw the Tour de France into chaos on the eve of the race.

Sergant received the harshest of 23 sentences that were handed down at the trial, with all of the defendants convicted. He was also fined more than 180,000 euros. He has already spent one year in custody pending the verdict. His wife, Monique, was given a one-year prison term.

The other sentences ranged from fines of 1500 euros to 30 months in prison for former pro cyclist Laurent Roux, with 20 months suspended. "I think the sentence is relatively long and that I will appeal the decision," Roux said. "They want to sentence me and say everything is fine. I am the only top-level sportsman to have spent eight months in a cell for doping and I think that's a lot."

"I have the impression that, despite what just happened in the Tour de France, that I'm the (scapegoat) for a totally corrupt system," he said.

Roux had admitted during the trial to taking banned substances throughout his career.

The accused also included former mountain bike world champion Christophe Dupouey, who was handed a suspended sentence of three months and former professional cyclist Eddy Lembo, who was given a suspended prison sentence of 16 months. Laurent Biondi, former assistant director of the AG2R team, was given a suspended sentence of three months.

Roux's brother, Fabien, was sentenced to 24 months, with 15 months suspended. The brothers, each having already has been jailed for eight months, were ordered to pay more than 180,000 euros each in fines.

About 2,000 doses of what is often called a "magic cocktail" or "Belgian cocktail" were sold in France and Belgium between 2002 and 2005, the prosecutor said.

French Cycling Federation lawyer Paul Mauriac called the verdicts just. "Let's stop saying that others dope, everyone dopes, so I will dope," he said.

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