Pierre Rolland has been cleared to return to racing by the French Cycling Federation. The Team Europcar rider had been requested to hand back his licence for eight days after he recorded abnormally low levels of cortisol in a test carried out in conjunction with the MPCC (Movement for Credible Cycling) on the final weekend of the Critérium du Dauphiné.
The additional MPCC cortisol tests are designed specifically to combat the abuse of corticoids in the professional peloton, which are legal with a Therapeutic Use Exemption but are sometimes taken to artificially boost recovery and performance. As a health measure, MPCC teams agree not to field riders who are using cortisone to treat injuries, resting them until they are fit to return to racing without requiring a TUE for the substance.
Rolland and Team Europcar stoked controversy by starting the final stage of the Dauphiné in spite of his low level of cortisol – which could be indicative of corticoid use or of fatigue – although the Frenchman pulled out early in the stage, citing an Achilles tendon injury.
Following additional testing by the French Cycling Federation, Rolland was cleared to return to action on Tuesday. Team Europcar team doctor Hubert Long told RMC radio that Rolland had “received a confirmation email from the federation. Everything is ok, he is going to get his licence back.”
Rolland will thus be able to take his place as leader of Team Europcar’s Tour de France team alongside Thomas Voeckler and he is also expected to line up at the French championships in Brittany on Sunday. Rolland has won stages in each of the past two Tours and finished eighth overall last year. His teammate Anthony Charteau also fell foul of an MPCC cortisol test at the Four Days of Dunkirk last year.
Team Europcar manager Jean-René Bernaudeau looked to downplay the significance of the matter.
“There is no Pierre Rolland Affair,” Bernaudeau told RMC. “He had a low level and after a bit of rest, he's much better.”