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Tuesday, August 3, 2004
Updated: August 4, 2:46 PM ET
French police detain Lelli for role in team doping


LILLE, France -- French police detained Italian cyclist Massimiliano Lelli for questioning Tuesday over the doping affair surrounding his Cofidis team, judicial sources said.

The 36-year-old Lelli, who has been cycling for Cofidis since 1998, was arrested at his team's headquarters in northern France after a meeting with his employer.

"It was not a meeting prior to a sacking but a call for explanations after the accusations made against him," Cofidis spokesman Alexandre Michaud said. "He's been accused and we wish to listen to him."

Lelli's former teammates Philippe Gaumont and David Millar have accused the Italian of being involved in the Cofidis doping affair. Millar has told investigators that Lelli supplied him with forbidden substances, L'Equipe daily reported last week.

Cycling time trial world champion Millar was given a two-year suspension from the sport after being placed under official judicial investigation in July. The British cyclist has admitted taking the banned drug erythropoietin (EPO), an endurance booster, in 2001 and 2003. He has been kicked off his team.

Three Cofidis riders have already been charged, including 1992 Olympic bronze medallist Gaumont, who was sacked by Cofidis after admitting taking and dealing in drugs.

The affair is the biggest judicial investigation into cycling since the Festina scandal that erupted during the 1998 Tour de France.