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Tour de France Friday, 24 July, 1998, 12:37 GMT 13:37 UK
Riders' protest delays Tour de France
Festina supporters with banner
Expelled team Festina still has its supporters
The Tour de France cycle race was delayed by more than an hour on Friday following a protest by the riders against the handling of the drugs scandal which continues to overshadow the event.

The French champion, Laurent Jalabert, said the participants were disgusted with the way they were being treated.

One team, Festina, has been suspended from the race after the discovery of performance-enhancing drugs in one of its cars.

Three Festina riders are still in police custody and being questioned.

French champion Laurent Jalabert, speaking on behalf of all the riders in the race, said: "We are revolted by what is happening.

"We are treated like cattle and in consequence today we will no longer ride."

Drugs scandal

Two weeks ago, 400 phials of performance-enhancing drugs were found in a Festina team - until recently classed as best cycling team in the world.

Festina team director Bruno Roussel (rear) arrives at court
Festina team director Bruno Roussel (rear) arrives at court
The phials contained a substance known as EPO, used to boost oxygen levels in the blood.

Last Friday race officials expelled the Festina team after director Bruno Roussel admitted to the programme of doping.

He and two other team officials are due to appear in court in Lille on Friday for a hearing aimed at determining their roles in the drugs scandal.

TVM assistant director Hendrik Redant: his team is also under investigation
TVM assistant director Hendrik Redant: his team is also under investigation
Meanwhile in a separate case in the south-western town of Pamiers, three members of the Dutch TVM team are also still being questioned by police following the discovery of doping substances in a TVM car near Reims in March.

This is not the first time that riders on the most prestigious cycle race have gone on strike. In 1966 they staged a protest after doctors raided team hotels and asked for urine samples in the first dope test in the history of the race.

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BBC Correspondent Simon Brotherton on Radio 5 Live: "the situation grows ever more serious"
Links to more Tour de France stories are at the foot of the page.


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