Arkea-Samsic team cycling team leader Nairo Quintana has denied any involvement in doping after two members of his team were detained after the recently completed Tour de France.
The unnamed pair were reportedly briefly detained and questioned before being released.
Another Tour de France doping scandal?
Quintana insists he has nothing to hide and the 2014 Giro d’Italia winner said that no drugs were found during a search of hotel rooms occupied by the team.
The 30-year-old Colombian finished 17th overall in the 2020 Tour de France.
“No doping substance has ever been found,” Quintana said in a statement late on Tuesday.
“I have nothing to hide and have never had anything to hide.”
Press reports from France have claimed that the team’s doctor and physiotherapist were detained with Marseille prosecutor Dominique Laurens confirming that an investigation is underway.
The police probe follows several quiet years for the scandal-plagued Tour de France which was infamously rocked by record-breaking American cyclist Lance Armstrong‘s bombshell admissions to doping in 2013 which saw him stripped of his seven titles.
The Tour de France was also rocked by a major probe in 1998, when French officials intercepted a Festina team support vehicle laden with doping products. The Festina team was disqualified from the race immediately.
The 21-year-old winner of the 2020 Tour de France Tadej Pogačar has asserted his belief that cycling has cleaned up its act after years of scandals and doping admissions.
The young Slovenian’s win came as a shock and he has had to defend himself against allegations that he may have illegally enhanced his performance.
“I know that doping puts the health of athletes in danger, I’ve always been aware of that. We have nothing to hide today and I think that cycling, despite the climate of suspicion, has done a lot to fight doping. In truth it saddens me that people doubt my performances. My only defence is that I am happy with my conscience.”
Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar
Arkea-Samsic distance themselves from investigation
Arkea-Samsic team general manager Emmanuel Hubert told AFP the probe involved only “a very limited number of riders, as well as their close entourage who are not employed by the team.”
Hubert said the team had no knowledge of any wrongdoing but would act should anything be proven.
“If it turned out that at the end of the current investigation, elements came to confirm the truth of doping practices, the team would immediately dissociate itself from such acts and would take the necessary measures without delay,” Hubert said.
The French prosecutor’s statement revealed the investigation was focused on the prescription of a substance or banned method for athletes, as well as help and encouragement in its use.