LIEGE, Belgium (Reuters) - Europcar manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau has denied any wrongdoing after a report in L’Equipe newspaper said a preliminary investigation had been opened in France into alleged doping within the French team on Wednesday.
“I have called my lawyer immediately. We have a clear conscience and we will answer every question as we have always done,” Bernaudeau, who will lead his team on the Tour de France from Saturday, told Reuters.
L’Equipe said a Paris prosecutor had opened a preliminary investigation into alleged doping practices in August 2011.
“Nothing is established yet,” prosecutor Dominique Perard was quoted as saying by L’Equipe. “You know, we open a lot of preliminary investigations and it often leads to nothing.”
Perard said the investigation focused on last year’s Tour de France, when Frenchman Thomas Voeckler of Europcar had a brilliant run to finish fourth overall.
Team mate Pierre Rolland also won the prestigious mountain stage to L’Alpe d’Huez.
The news comes three days before the Tour de France, an event often marred by doping scandals, starts in Liege on Saturday.
Europcar are a member of the MPCC (Movement for a credible cycling), who endorse a strong anti-doping stance.
Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by John Mehaffey