Bahrain-Victorious seeks legal advice following French study on spinal cord-injury drug

Experts found the presence of tizanidine, which is not banned by WADA, in hair samples from three riders at the Tour de France. A team was not named, but Bahrain-Victorious has spoken out.

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Bahrain-Victorious denied wrongdoing following the publication of a French study, which found evidence of a muscle relaxant used to treat people with multiple sclerosis and spinal cord injuries in the hair samples of three Tour de France cyclists.

The study — published Thursday in the Wiley Analytical Science Journal — did not specify who the samples were taken from, but that they were done with a police presence during a “three-week cyclist race” in France.

Also read: Spinal cord-injury drug detected in Tour de France riders

It reported that the muscle relaxant tizanidine — which is not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) — was detected in three of the seven samples taken.

Bahrain-Victorious was the subject of a police raid following stage 17 of the Tour de France, with the authorities remaining at the team’s hotel in Pau until about 2 a.m. The raid was undertaken by France’s public health police division, also known as OCLAESP.

The team did not confirm or deny if the hair samples belonged to any of its riders, but said it had not been notified about the finding of any substances — tizanidine or otherwise — in any of its riders.

“Team Bahrain Victorious and any of its riders have not been officially or unofficially notified about any findings related to tizanidine or other substances,” a team statement said Friday.

“The team would like to stress that the authors of the scientific article to which all allegations refer have unambiguously pointed out that tizanidine is not a prohibited substance in sport.”

Doping is illegal in France and can carry a large fine or even a prison sentence. French authorities opened a preliminary investigation into the July raid, but no official charges have yet been made.

As tizanidine is not a banned substance under WADA rules, it does not fall under French doping laws.

In its statement, Bahrain-Victorious said the publication of the study while the police investigation is ongoing has “impacted” its reputation, and it is now seeking legal advice on the matter.

“The team is consulting legal advice about the nature in which this information was published during an ongoing investigation without the team being notified which has impacted the team’s reputation. At this moment, the team has no further comments,” the statement said.

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