Junior Paris-Roubaix winner Fabien Taillefer arrested in doping investigation
Amateur riders and Taillefer's father involved in the case
The winner of the 2007 Junior Paris-Roubaix, Fabien Taillefer is under investigation in Brittany along with a dozen other people, including amateur riders, a doctor and a pharmacist, as part of a French doping investigation called ‘Medi14’. The investigation has been carried out by French gendarmes and Taillefer’s father, a national veteran champion, is also involved.
Taillefer was one of the best Junior riders in the world in 2007, winning Paris-Roubaix, Classique des Alpes, Chrono des Nations and the French National Time Trial Championships. He was also second in the Junior European Road Race Championships. In June 2008, he had a test with the Quick Step team but continued to compete as an Under 23 rider.
In 2010 he finished third in the Under 23 Paris-Roubaix. After being in the thick of the action all race, he was able to stay with Taylor Phinney and Belgium’s Jens Debusschere when they attacked on the cobbles. Despite a breaking his gears with two kilometres to go, he launched the sprint and finished third.
Taillefer talked about doping in June 2008, responding to allegations about a friend, who is now linked to the “Medi14” investigation.
“There are athletes who make people jealous, which prove they have got enviable results," he wrote on his personal internet forum.
"We speak a lot about doping when we speak about cycling. But don’t often speak about the hours of training or about the sacrifices that most cyclists make. If a foot player doesn’t train during the week for some reason, he still knows how to play on Sunday and nobody can see the difference. If we don’t train the week before the race, we can’t expect a miracle but we can’t cheat!”
Guimard and French Federation President speak out
Legendary French directeur sportif Cyrille Guimard, managed Fabien Taillefer during his only season as a professional with VC Roubaix in 2009.
Giumard told Cyclingnews: “It’s a big pity. I know Fabien’s natural potential so why did he do this? Perhaps he wanted to shine every time and everywhere. I’m surprised to see what some riders still do, especially when they are so young, because they know the cheats are caught sooner or later…”
Guimard insisted that Taillefer’s case is about “more than sport” because two members of his family are involved. He also said the Taillefer left VC Roubaix because of “behaviour problems” although a thigh problem also reportedly affected a large part of his season.
David Lappartient, the President of the French Cycling Federation, played down the importance of the investigation to the Brittany-based newspaper Ouest-France, claiming that even if riders were in custody, it “doesn’t mean they are guilty” because “they have to give details of their relationships.”
However, Lappartient admitted that there is “renewed problem of doping in amateur cycling”, with an 89% increase in the number of temporary “suspensions” due of abnormal results discovered in rider’s “longitudinal follow-up test” – the French equivalent of the UCI’s Biological Passport.
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By Josh Croxton