Investigators target Tour teams

The Tour de France peloton is about to roll out of Cambrai

The Tour de France peloton is about to roll out of Cambrai (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

The French Central Office against Environmental Damage and Public Health (OCLAESP), which had initiated the examination of medical waste deposited by the Tour de France teams in 2009, is continuing its work at this year's Tour.

Since the French law was changed in July 2008, possession of doping substances or prohibited material - like intravenous drip bags - constitutes a breach of the law subject to pursuit. The special unit may intervene in the case of a positive doping control, but if suspect material is discovered, investigators are entitled to open proceedings like in the case of Astana and Caisse d'Epargne.

OCLAESP investigators are currently at the Tour with the aim of uncovering the networks needed to engage in doping methods. "We are less interested in the athlete than in the persons that are in truly in charge," said the head of the unit, colonel Thierry Bourret to AFP.

"We have been able to observe that the most elaborated cases of doping are similar to organised crime. At the top, you find the prescriptioner, the person that gives the doping protocol. This can be a doctor. Then, the supplier of the products, which often are diverted drugs - stolen products or falsified prescriptions. Sometimes you have a provider, the person who will bring the products. And then, a person in charge of administering, as things like blood transfusions can't be done on your own. Finally, there will be a person to help control your parameters are normal for you not to be detected."

The OCLAESP was also the investigation unit that uncovered the Ukrainian doping ring at the Tour de l'Avenir last year.

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