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October 14, 2009

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Paper claims Astana under probe in France

FRENCH prosecutors have reportedly launched a preliminary investigation against the Astana team to examine syringes belonging to the squad during this year's Tour de France.

L'Equipe newspaper reported yesterday on its Website that prosecutors opened the case after "the discovery of several suspicious syringes in a container given by organizers to all the teams in order to collect the medical waste."

Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and third-place Lance Armstrong rode with Astana on this year's Tour.

The Spaniard is still under contract with the Kazakh-funded team while the Texan left to launch his own squad RadioShack.

According to L'Equipe, the syringes will be analyzed by a forensic lab called Toxlab, which is responsible for determining their content.

Gilbert Pepin, a doctor at the lab, was not available for comment.

While there were no positive tests at this year's Tour, authorities did seize drugs that the French anti-doping agency's scientific adviser said raised questions.

The drugs - which include treatments for diabetes, high blood pressure and convulsions suffered by manic-depressives - are not banned but are "incongruous" in top-level athletes, said Professor Michel Rieu last week.

Rieu declined to say which teams the substances had been taken from, saying that it was part of a judicial investigation.


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