Jeannie Longo may have ridden her last professional bike race, after the French Cycling Federation (FFC) announced its intention to start a disciplinary procedure for twice giving insufficient whereabouts information and once missing a doping control earlier in the year.
According to reports from l'Equipe, the third violation came in June when the 52-year-old was in the US preparing for the French time trial championships. USADA officials came to the hotel she was supposed to be staying, but Longo was absent. USADA then notified the French Anti-Doping Authority (AFLD) who have recently passed on the case again to the FFC.
Though missing a test is always treated seriously by any national cycling federation, riders are only ever suspended after three infringements to the whereabouts localisation system. Longo now risks a suspension of at least three months, up to two years. This calls in to serious question her participation at the World Championships in Copenhagen as well as the continuation of her career.
Longo, who does not own a mobile phone or laptop and prefers a secluded lifestyle together with her husband and trainer, has competed for more than 30 years. She has consistently been able to ride at the elite level of the sport, with numerous world and national championships on the track and road. If she receives the expected two-year ban, she will likely be forced to retire from the sport.
The legendary French rider has not been able or willing to explain why she failed to communicate her whereabouts. "If the athlete cannot justify the infringements, it is evident that he or she should be banned for two years, no less," World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) legal advisor Olivier Niggli told L'Equipe. Indeed, if the FFC choses to sanction Longo with a shorter suspension, WADA may intervene and appeal the decision in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
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