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  Monday, 6 November, 2000, 13:15 GMT
Virenque 'did not supply drugs'
Richard Virenque
Virenque may not have committed a criminal act
The prosecutor in the trial of the Festina cycling team drugs scandal said there was insufficient evidence that disgraced French rider Richard Virenque took an active part in organised doping.

The five times Tour de France King of the Mountains admitted in court two weeks ago that he had taken drugs such as the banned hormone erythropoietin (EPO) when with Festina after previously denying the allegations for 27 months.

But as taking drugs is not considered an offence in French law the prosecutor asked for Virenque not to be sentenced.

Former Festina team chief Bruno Roussel faces an 18 months suspended jail sentence and a 4,600 fine after confessing to participating in organised doping of the Festina team.

The prosecution team are seeking a suspended jail sentence of 14 months and an 1,800 fine against former Festina team masseur Willy Voet.

And eight other people charged in the case are also facing suspended jail sentences and fines.

If they were alone in doing it, it would be more serious - On the other hand, if doping was systematic, it would tone down their responsibilities

Judge Daniel Delegove

The judge presiding over the trial will decide how much responsibility Virenque and his Festina team co-defendants should take for the drug taking scandal that has rocked the sport.

Judge Daniel Delegove said last week that he would be less severe on individuals if he found that drug taking was common practice among other riders.

"I'm looking to define what the context is to be able to evaluate the degree of responsibility of each defendant," he said.

"If they were alone in doing it, it would be more serious. On the other hand, if doping was systematic, it would tone down their responsibilities."

Bruno Roussel's lawyer told the court that there were more teams tarnished with the drug taking scandal.

"Roussel was caught, the Festina team were caught but the trial showed it could have been any other team," he said.

And the court heard that the defendants thought that because doping was so widespread in cycling they would not be singled out as criminals.

The Festina scandal started when about 40 bottles of doping substances were found in the boot of the car driven by Willy Voet before the start of the 1998 Tour de France.

The verdict is not expected to be made public before the end of the year.

See also:

05 Nov 00 | Other Sports
05 Nov 00 | Other Sports
03 Nov 00 | Other Sports
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