British cyclist David Millar and nine others, including six current or former Cofidis riders, went on trial on Monday for their alleged role in a doping scandal.
The seven cyclists are charged with "acquiring and possessing banned substances."
The other three defendants -- a cycling technician, a pharmacist and a former Cofidis physio -- are accused of encouraging the riders to use banned substances and supplying them with the drugs.
The trial, in the Paris suburb of Nanterre, is expected to last a week. The defendants each face up to five years in prison and fines of 75,000 euros (US$95,200) if convicted.
One of the cyclists, Marek Rutkiewicz, did not show up for Monday's proceedings. No explanation was provided.
The case centers on Cofidis' ex-physio, Boguslaw Madejak, a Pole who joined the team in 1997. French investigators intercepted phone calls between Madejak and two Polish Cofidis riders in which they appeared to speak in code about trafficking substances used in doping.
In January, 2004, French authorities found seven vials of the performance enhancer EPO on Rutkiewicz, who was returning from a trip to Poland. Under questioning, Rutkiewicz said Madejak's father had supplied him with the drug.
"I would like to finish this whole thing and live out the rest of my life calmly," Madejak said at the trial.
During the proceedings, he often held his head in his hands and, sighing, murmured that he didn't do anything.
The presiding judge chastised the defendants, reminding them of the long-term effects of performance enhancers.
"These products cause physical degeneration, insanity and death," Ghislaine Polge said. "With these three words, all is said."
Other riders standing trial are Frenchmen Robert Sassone, Mederic Clain and Philippe Gaumont, Daniel Majewski of Poland and Italian Massimiliano Lelli.
Millar, a Scot, was banned for two years and stripped of his 2003 world-time trial title after admitting to a French judge that he used the banned blood-boosting hormone EPO. He returned to competition earlier this year after completing his suspension.
Millar admitted he had used EPO three times: once in 2001 and twice in 2003 -- including at the 2003 Tour de France.