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French prosecutor opens preliminary investigation into doping allegations at Bahrain Victorious

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) at the Tour de France
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) at the Tour de France (Image credit: Getty Images)

French police have confirmed that they have opened a preliminary investigation into possible doping allegations at the Bahrain Victorious team. The announcement follows the news that the Bahrain Victorious team hotel was raided and vehicles searched by police on Wednesday night at the Tour de France in Pau.

A statement from the Marseille prosecutor's office said the investigation was opened on July 3 into the possible “acquisition, transportation, possession and importing of a prohibited substance or method for use by an athlete without justification by members of Team Bahrain Victorious, currently in action at the 2021 Tour de France."

The investigation is being carried out by the Office Central de Lutte contre les Atteintes à l’Environnement et la Santé Publique (OCLAESP), responsible for public health based in Marseille, where the investigation was formally opened by a public prosecutor. 

Police confirmed that as part of the investigation, with approval from a judge, they carried out a search of the hotel rooms occupied by the members of the team in the suburb of Pau. Cyclingnews understands around 50 officers were involved.

"The preliminary investigation is continuing to determine the reality or not of the offenses that justified its initiation,” the statement reads.

“The existence of this investigation and the operations carried out do not in any way predict the existence of criminal offenses. Anyone suspected or prosecuted is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

On Thursday morning Cyclingnews broke the news that the Bahrain Victorious team hotel had been raided by the French police with dozens of officers on the scene. According to Reuters the raid lasted until 2 a.m. but the team dismissed the story.

"Nothing special, we have a visit from the police, they ask for riders training files, they check bus and that’s it," team boss Milan Erzen told Cyclingnews. "They disturb riders for one hour and at the end, they said thank you. They didn’t tell us what’s the reason of visit, but we will found this out today through lawyers."

Bahrain Victorious confirmed to Cyclingnews they would continue in the Tour de France and line-up in Pau for the final mountain stage 18 to Luz Ardiden.

"Of course , why not? We will defend our positions," they said.

More to follow...