Longo's husband loses appeal against doping sentence

Grenoble (France) (AFP) –


The husband of French cycling great Jeannie Longo lost his appeal against a one-year suspended jail term for importing banned blood booster EPO, in Grenoble on Wednesday.

Patrice Ciprelli, who also coached the 58-year-old Longo, was found guilty in March last year of smuggling prohibited goods.

Ciprelli, 64, was found guilty of ordering 33 boxes or flasks of erythropoietin (EPO) over the internet for 2,920 euros ($3,110) between 2008 and 2011.

In addition to the suspended jail sentence he was fined 5,800 euros.

He appealed, seeking a reduced sentence.

At the end of the ruling on Wednesday, Ciprelli refused to speak.

Longo, with tears in her eyes, denounced "a conspiracy" she said had been aimed at preventing her ending her career by competing in the London Olympics at the age of 53 in 2012.

Longo won 59 national titles, 13 world titles and an Olympic gold in road racing in 1996.

The official investigation began in September 2011 after an article in the sports daily L'Equipe.

"I'm sad for my husband, who has to carry the blame. They have used him," said Longo. "My only fault is to have been an extraordinary athlete."

The court had decided that, while there was no proof that Ciprelli had administered the EPO to any riders, it accepted the evidence of an expert pharmacologist, that it was "not plausible" that the coach had bought such a quantity of the drug for his personal therapeutic use.

"This is not a common citizen who is accused of having ordered bizarre products but a trainer," said French avocate general Gisele Auguste, urging that the sentence be upheld.