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Tour de France Thursday, 30 July, 1998, 20:46 GMT 21:46 UK
Drugs scandal widens
massi
Rodolfo Massi was absent at the start of stage 18
Drugs have allegedly been found in the hotel room of Rodolfo Massi - the rider who was leading the 'king of the mountains' competition in The Tour de France.

The public prosecutor's office in Lille has announced that illegal substances were found in Massi's hotel room on Wednesday evening.

steels
Tom Steels of Belgium sprints to the finish-line
The Casino rider was among four people questioned by police in Chambery on Wednesday and failed to take part in the Tour's 18th stage.

Thursday's leg, which ran from Aix-Les-Bains to Neuchatel in Switzerland, was eventually won by the Belgian rider Tom Steels, who led a massed sprint to the line.

It was the Mapei rider's third stage win of the Tour, but Italian Marco Pantani, of Mercatone, still retains the overall lead.

Stage annulled

In comparison to the previous day's events, stage 18 was completed without incident.

chaos
The 17th stage turned into a farce when riders stopped
On Wednesday, riders had stopped twice and eventually crossed the line holding hands.

The leg was ultimately annulled by the organisers.

But even before Thursday's stage, the drugs scandal that continues to surround the tour, began to widen.

Four people, including Massi, were taking in by police for questioning.

They included the team director of the La Francaise des Jeux team, Marc Madiot, and an Once team doctor. The fourth person has not yet been identified.

Growing chaos

In protest at police drug investigations and the treatment of members of the TVM team, Once, Banesto, Riso-Scotti and Vitalicio all pulled out from the race on Wednesday evening.

Kelme also withdrew on Thursday.

As a result, there are now no Spanish teams left in the race.

With the Festina team thrown out of the Tour last week, only 103 riders started the 18th stage.

The race director, Jean-Marie Leblanc, has rejected rumours that the tour will fold, however, saying it will continue until its scheduled finish in Paris on Sunday.

"We will go on because of those for which we do this job as riders or organisers," he said.

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BBC Radio 5Live's Simon Brotherton: "The Tour goes on"
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30 Jul 98 | Tour de France
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