Cyclists, doctor implicated in Cofidis doping scandal

A former Cofidis cyclist has accused several of his ex-teammates and the team's doctor of widespread doping abuse.

An article published Friday in French sports daily L'Equipe quotes testimony given by former Cofidis cyclist Philippe Gaumont.

Gaumont is one of seven team members placed under investigation in France by judge Richard Pallain.

In January 2004, French police seized male hormones, EPO, amphetamines and arrested two cyclists in the anti-doping investigation involving Cofidis, one of France's top teams and home to three world champions.

In the ongoing doping scandal that has rocked France, Gaumont has made several serious allegations against the Cofidis team, including accusing the team's doctor Jean-Jacques Menuet of giving cortisone and human growth hormone injections to riders.

"Menuet's political stance is never to prescribe an illicit product or a banned product," L'Equipe quoted Gaumont as saying.

"But if you bring these products to him, not only will he explain how they work to you, but he is likely to administer them."

L'Equipe also quotes Gaumont, who was let go by the team in February, as saying that Menuet gave him an injection on the eve of the Tour de France's final stage in 2003.

"Menuet would not tell me what was in the syringe ... all I know is that this blocked my performance," said Gaumont. "I think it was cortisone or human growth hormones."

"I had felt the same effects during the Dunkirk four-day race in 2002 when Menuet gave me a (corticostreoid) Kenacort 400 the day before the race," Gaumont said.

Gaumont also accused Cofidis' star rider David Millar, who won the Tour de France time trial from Pornac to Nantes on July 26 last year, of doping himself and helping to supply others.

Gaumont testified that Millar took unspecified products the evening before the stage win, and had some left over for the following day's final stage ending on the Champs-Elysees.

According to Gaumont's testimony, Millar ordered Menuet to give the remainder of his product to Gaumont and another Cofidis rider, Cedric Vasseur.

"On the orders of Millar, Menuet injected us with the clear liquid," Gaumont said.

"If Menuet agreed to do this it is because Millar asked him. He is the team leader and has a lot of power over the other riders and over Menuet."

In January, Gaumont told police investigators that he not only used erythropoietin, a banned substance, but offered it to a Cofidis teammate.

EPO is a peptide hormone capable of improving aerobic performance by boosting the concentration of red blood cells.

Gaumont potentially faces criminal charges for "offering, transferring and encouraging the use of doping products." Using banned substances is not illegal in France, but trafficking is.

with files from CP Online