The winner of the 1998 Tour de France, Italy’s Marco Pantani, and the German runner-up, Jan Ullrich, used the banned blood-doping substance EPO during the race, a French Senate inquiry revealed on Wednesday according to local media.
The revelations, which come three days after Britain’s Chris Froome won the 100th Tour, were contained in a Senate report on the effectiveness of anti-doping measures.
German sprinter Erik Zabel, his Italian counterpart Mario Cipollini, Spain’s Abraham Olano and France’s Laurent Jalabert were among the other riders incriminated by tests carried out in 2004 on samples taken during the 1998 tour, the report showed.
The cyclists who tested positive were not listed by name but French media were able to deduce their identities by matching the results of their anonymous tests with the riders’ medical information.
Ullrich, who won the 1997 Tour, already admitted last month he had taken performance-enhancing substances during his career. The German said he “just wanted to level the playing field.” The allegations against Jalabert surfaced around the same time. He refused to confirm or deny them but stepped down as a radio and television commentator of the Tour.
French rider Jacky Durand, whose name was also on the list, issued a statement acknowledging his responsibility.
“I take responsibility for my actions,” he said in the statement posted on Eurosport’s website.
“To live your passion, to participate and succeed in the Tour de France, you take the plunge,” he said, adding, “The new generation must not pay for the stupidity of the past.”
Senate rapporteur Jean-Jacques Lozach agreed that cycling was cleaner now than before. The 2013 Tour was clouded by suspicion, particularly in French media, about Froome’s performance.
But Lozach gave the sport a cautious clean bill of health.
“I can say I’m rather confident in this new generation of cyclists, and in particular the French,” he told reporters.
The five-month Senate investigation examined 18 sports in total, including swimming, athletics and rugby, and came up with 60 proposals.
These included setting up a doping “truth and reconciliation commission” and prioritizing quality over quantity when it comes to drug testing, by making tests more targeted and more random.