French cyclist suspended

2012-02-23 18:15

Paris - French cyclist Yoann Offredo is considering whether to appeal against the one-year suspension his federation handed to him on Thursday for missing three doping tests.

According to World Anti-Doping Agency rules, riders face suspension if they breach whereabouts regulations three times over an 18-month period.

Offredo, a promising Classics rider, failed to properly give his whereabouts for tests three times between December 2010 and July 2011. The ban is not retroactive, meaning the 25-year-old Offredo is banned until next February.

"This punishment harms my career and my reputation. It calls into question the person I am and I reserve the right to appeal to the judgment of a civil court," Offredo said in a statement Thursday. "I scream this with all my strength: I have never cheated and I always took part in cycling in an honest way.

"I feel saddened, disillusioned and hurt."

Offredo claims he forgot to submit his new whereabouts in July 2011 after an unexpected last-minute switch to his race schedule.

"I have never denied the administrative errors I made that led to three no-shows," Offredo said. "I tried to defend myself as best I could by reminding everyone that I was taking part in a race when an (anti-doping) official came to my place in July, 2011."

Offredo, who finished seventh at last year's Milan-San Remo Classic, says he is committed to the fight against doping.

"I have always tried to represent the image of cycling as best I could in the face of its numerous detractors, always supported the fight against doping, always condemned cheats," he said. "Nevertheless, it seems to be that, in the scale of punishments handed down to cyclists, this one-year suspension is disproportionate."

In January, the French federation imposed a one-year suspension on rider Gregory Bauge for violating rules on rider availability, but his suspension was backdated.

The suspension covered Dec. 23, 2010, to Dec. 22, 2011, and all of Bauge's results during that period were nullified by the International Cycling Union, including those at the world championships.

But, with the suspension already finished, Bauge competed at last week's Track World Cup and he remains eligible to ride at the London Olympics later this year, whereas Offredo will not be able to unless he wins an appeal.