Friday, July 1, 2011
Team's Tour de France bus seized
ESPN.com news services
LA-ROCHE-SUR-YON, France -- Police seized the Quick Step cycling team's bus for checks on the eve of the Tour de France for several hours before letting it leave.
The bus was seized at the team hotel in the afternoon and was taken to a police station in La Roche-sur-Yon, about 30 miles away, before being allowed to leave in the evening.
"It was a routine control," Quick Step spokesman Alessandro Tegner said. "Maybe next week it's another team. Everything is all right."
A police officer told The Associated Press the operation was coordinated by local authorities.
"We are supervising the operation, we are checking things," said the official, who requested anonymity because he was not allowed to speak publicly to the media.
He refused to say whether they were looking for banned substances.
Judicial officials at the Les Sables d'Olonne court were not immediately available for comments.
A police unit specialized in the fight against doping took part in the operation. The agency has been involved in a French investigation of syringes and transfusion equipment found in a trash container after the 2009 Tour. The material belonged to the Astana cycling team.
The Quick Step team includes French champion Sylvain Chavanel and sprinting ace Tom Boonen of Belgium.
The Tour starts on Saturday in the Vendee western region of France.
Meanwhile, the leader for Omega Pharma-Lotto is brushing off a doping allegation that led the Belgian team to cut ties with a driver.
At a news conference Friday on the eve of the start of the three-week cycling showcase, cyclist Jurgen Van den Broeck said: "We do a job. We're here for the Tour -- and all the rest, we don't care."
The team severed ties with Wim Vansevenant, a former rider turned team driver, this week after police questioned him for alleged wrongdoing for ordering a hormonal product, a state prosecutor has said. Vansevenant has since been released, and an investigation is ongoing.
Team rider Philippe Gilbert of Belgium said he was "disgusted" by unspecified media reports about the case featuring his image -- saying they had unfairly suggested he was linked to it.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.