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French cycling hero Jalabert hit by doping charges

AFP

French cycling star Laurent Jalabert was accused late Monday of doping on the 1998 Tour de France by a sports newspaper. The sports star announced Wednesday that he will not work as a TV commentator for the upcoming competition as a result.

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Former French cycling pro Laurent Jalabert, who is facing accusations of doping during the 1998 Tour de France, said Tuesday that he was quitting his planned TV and radio consultancy activities during this year’s Tour.

“In order to calmly prepare my defence, I have freely decided to suspend my work as a consultant for different media outlets,” Jalabert said in a statement.

“I have been the target of revelations that as far as I know have been limited to the press, and without any legal basis,” he added.

Jalabert, 44, retired in 2002, but is still considered a major star in his native France, and was expected to offer live commentary of this year’s historic 100th edition of the Tour de France.

He is suspected of using a banned substance known as erythropoietin (EPO) on the Tour in 1998, based on a report by the French sports daily L’Equipe, which cited recently uncovered documents dating from 2004.

The downfall of Lance Armstrong last year rocked the cycling world’s biggest competition, with organisers scrambling to recover ahead of this year’s milestone anniversary.

“I do not want these events to tarnish the 100-year celebrations of the Tour de France, or hurt the image of the people I work with,” Jalabert said.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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