By Hedwig Kröner
On Monday, June 19, the trial on the so-called "Cahors affair" involving 23 persons has begun in Bordeaux. The Belgian-French doping scandal begun in spring 2004 and culminated with the arrests of Belgians Freddy and Monique Sergant, presumed heads of a trafficking network of "pot belge" (a mix of cocaine, caffeine, pain killers, sometimes amphetamine and heroin), as well as former professional Laurent Roux and his brother Fabien, former mountainbike world champion Christophe Dupouey, former pro Laurent Biondi, Dominique Bozzi, Sylvain Bolay, Philippe Koehler and Eddy Lembo, to name but those directly involved in cycling.
The Sergant couple is accused of buying large quantities of "pot belge", produced in the Netherlands, and selling them to the Roux brothers in France since May 2002, who then distributed the drug mix further within French amateur and, to a smaller extent, professional cycling while keeping some for their own consumption. The relationship between Freddy Sergant and Laurent Roux dates back to 1998, when Roux raced with Dutch TVM and Sergant was one of the team's masseurs.
"EPO, growth hormone, cortisone... I used everything that was common practice in the peloton at the time," Roux told the Bordeaux judges on the first day of the trial. "Everybody did. The greatest riders used things that I couldn't get with my small salary. They bought synthetic haemoglobin and underwent blood transfusions, which I have never messed with."
The 33 year-old, who has been detained for eight months already, based his defense on his physical addiction to the drugs. The Sergant couple and the Roux brothers could be sentenced to a maximum of ten years in prison.
Jalabert drug party blamed for addiction
During the first day of hearings in the "Cahors" trial, Laurent Roux's younger brother Fabien testified that it was former professional and current French TV consultant Laurent Jalabert who first introduced him to "pot belge". "I was initiated to using pot belge during a party with Laurent Jalabert in 2001," the 24 year-old said. "Together with other professionals, I've seen him injecting himself in the garage of his house that evening. It was a party organised by his fan club. It's frequent in the cycling world. These parties take place during the off-season. I came with my brother, who was a professional. The whole team of the cyclist who was hosting participated in these parties - from mechanic to soigneur."
Roux said he thus consumed the drug mix for the first time in the presence of Jalabert. "It was offered by the rider who hosted the party," he added. Later during the trial, a former teammate of Laurent Jalabert at CSC-Tiscali, who was heard as a witness, confirmed Roux's accusations.