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The Movement for Credible Cycling, a group of teams that holds its members to ethical standards beyond the World Anti-Doping Code, has provisionally suspended the French Europcar team over its treatment of Pierre Rolland’s test for low cortisol levels at the Critérium du Dauphiné earlier this month.
“The Board of Directors of MPCC unanimously [decided to] temporarily suspend Team Europcar from MPCC, pending its General Assembly for non-compliance with MPCC internal regulations during the 8 June stage at Dauphiné Libere,” the MPCC said in a statement on its website Thursday. “Therefore, until the next General Assembly, members of this team, namely Jean-René Bernaudeau and Dr. Hubert Long, can no longer serve as members of the MPCC Board of Directors.
“The strict application of our rules of procedure, on a voluntary basis, is required by all our members, teams, sponsors, teams, and/or institutional, national federations, organizers, etc.
The team should not have permitted Pierre Rolland to ride as an outcome of the analysis results, validated by both Dr. Megret and Professor Martine Duclos, on both testing time and preanalytical conditions.”
Low cortisol levels are potentially indicative of the use of corticosteroids, which are allowed by the World Anti-Doping Agency with a Therapeutic Use Exemption. Another possible cause is fatigue. Corticosteroids aid in recovery and the MPCC code requires member teams to sit riders who are using the substances for eight days. Rolland started the eighth stage of the pre-Tour de France tuneup, despite his abnormal test result. Rolland did not finish the stage.
Bernaudeau contested a L’Equipe report earlier in June, claiming that the positive test came early on the morning of the eighth stage
“He was tested at 6:45 a.m., at sunrise,” the French daily quoted Bernaudeau. “Normally it is necessary to wait half an hour to get reliable results. That was not possible because the start time of the race was very early. We contacted the doctor Armand Mégret and he authorized his start.”
Mégret has denied that he gave clearance to Rolland to start the stage.
“The cortisol samples were requested by MPCC team doctors in 2007, following the decision of WADA to abandon regulations on steroids,” said the MPCC on Thursday. “MPCC team doctors are committed to immediately withdraw from the race for health reasons, the rider who has a low or collapsed cortisol levels, which has already been the case.”