A French Senate inquiry into sports doping has revealed that the top two in the 1998 Tour de France – Italian Marco Pantani and Germany’s Jan Ullrich – were taking the banned blood booster EPO.
The report also revealed three riders who used EPO in the 1998 Tour – Laurent Jalabert, Jacky Durand, and Laurent Desbiens. Two German riders – Erik Zabel and Jens Heppner were on the list. The medical stubs enclosed in the 918-page report also revealed that American Lance Armstrong tested positive for EPO in 1999.
The 21-member parliamentary group said a “truth and reconciliation” commission should be created to lift the veil of silence on illegal practices. It was further recommended by the group that French government finance studies about the extent of doping, its risks and the range of drugs used.
“We cannot properly fight something that we don’t understand,” parliamentarian Jean-Jacques Lozach, the group’s spokesman, said. Lozach remarked the inquiry revealed an “incredible inability” for different organizations to work together and share information. He added, “The anti-doping fight would be a lot more effective if the different actors in sports, law enforcement and justice cooperated.”
“Speaking of doping doesn’t harm sport but instead contributes in the medium and long term to restore its greatness. Not speaking about it often means not doing anything.”
Jacky Durand, a now-retired winner of three stages on the Tour, said he accepted responsibility for his doping. Durand was also named in the report and said, “I don’t think anyone is duped.” “The new generation shouldn’t have to pay for the stupid things we did in the past.”