(Reuters) – Veteran rider Jeannie Longo’s husband and coach Patrice Ciprelli faces disciplinary action following allegations that he bought erythropoietin (EPO) in 2007, the French cycling federation (FFC) said on Tuesday.
“Following allegations claiming Mr Patrice Ciprelli bought Chinese EPO, the FFC (French cycling federation) has decided to open disciplinary proceedings,” the FFC said in a statement.
The federation added that Ciprelli was provisionally suspended.
Ciprelli, who also coached French rider Edwige Pitel in 2007, denied any wrongdoing.
“He says the documents are fake and reserved the right to sue for defamation,” Ciprelli’s lawyer Bruno Ravaz told Reuters. “It is easy to usurp one’s identity on the internet.”
The sports daily L’Equipe reported on Tuesday that Ciprelli bought EPO via former U.S. professional Joe Papp, backing up its story with email exchanges allegedly between a supplier based in China, Papp and Ciprelli.
L’Equipe also ran an interview with Papp in which he said he had supplied Ciprelli with the banned substance.
The 52-year-old Longo, who failed to provide her whereabouts to anti-doping authorities on three occasions, has been selected in the French squad for next week’s world championships in Copenhagen, although it is now likely that she will miss the event.
The FFC have yet to be formally notified by the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) about Longo’s failure to provide her whereabouts.
FFC president David Lappartient said that such a notification would trigger disciplinary proceedings.
“If an athlete is facing disciplinary proceedings, they cannot be selected (for the world championships),” Lappartient told a news conference on Tuesday.
“We are just expecting to receive a letter (of notification) from the AFLD, probably this week.”
Ravaz, who also represents Longo, said the Frenchwoman was “stunned” by the allegations against her husband but would not comment further on his case.
Longo, France’s most successful cyclist and one of the nation’s favorite sports personalities, could face a ban from three months up to two years.
She won the first of her 13 world road and track titles in 1985 and picked up an Olympic road-race gold medal in Atlanta in 1996.