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Virenque appeal rejected

Virenque told a French court in October that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs

(Keystone Archive)

French cyclist Richard Virenque is set to miss the 2001 Tour de France after his appeal against the Swiss Cycling Association was rejected by the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Virenque was banned for nine months in December by the Swiss association, which issued his licence, after he told an October hearing he had knowingly taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

A five-time "King of the Mountains", Virenque was part of the Festina team that rocked the 1998 Tour de France after doping products were found in the car of the team's former masseur.

The French cyclist promptly appealed against the length of his ban, pointing out that he had voluntarily admitted to taking drugs.

However, his argument found little favour with the Court of Arbitration, which issued its decision to uphold the nine-month ban on Monday.

There was one minor victory for Virenque, though, after the court agreed to bring forward the end of his ban from October to mid-August.

The Lausanne-based body said that it was taking into account six weeks of suspension which Virenque had already served prior to his ban by the Swiss cycling association.

The decision means that the disgraced athlete will be able to compete in September's Tour of Spain and the world championships in October, if he can find a team to race with.

swissinfo with agencies


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