Sun, Feb 12, 2012 - Page 19 News List

French cyclist’s husband denies claims

AFP, Grenoble, France

Patrice Ciprelli, husband and coach of French cyclist Jeannie Longo, spent about 15,000 euros (US$20,000) on 15 purchases of EPO since 2007, a source said on Friday, fueling a theory of “permanent doping,” a claim denied by Ciprelli.

Prosecutors in Grenoble had stated on Thursday that only two purchases were made in May and June last year respectively, both for less than 500 euros apiece.

However, an investigation conducted by the police while Ciprelli was in custody led to the discovery of a document in his bag that contained a password through which they were able to access an online account used to make erythropoietin (EPO) orders and track his recent transactions.

The orders would then be passed to a Turkish pharmacy through companies based in Mauritius, a source close to the investigation said.

“Since 2007, it’s a permanent doping,” the source added.

However, Ciprelli’s lawyer Pierre Albert hit back: “Patrice Ciprelli categorically denies this allegation from the investigators and considers that this information is misleading.”

“The investigators counted the ‘canceled orders,’ that is to say the orders that were not accomplished. It’s either dishonesty or incompetence. We are outraged,” Albert added.

He insisted that Ciprelli had made between three and five orders “at most” for a total sum “between 1,500 and 2,500 euros.”

Ciprelli “is not sure to have made purchases in 2008,” the lawyer added.

On Thursday, Ciprelli had acknowledged that he bought EPO “for his personal usage,” according to his Albert.

In custody since Wednesday morning, Ciprelli was freed on Friday morning under judicial supervision. He is barred from his role as a professional coach and is prohibited from meeting certain people, including Michel Lucatelli, the French ski-cross team director, to whom he was having his EPO packages delivered.

He must also ask the country’s authorities for permission before leaving France.

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