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  Police Question Dutch Cyclists

Associated Press
Monday, August 3, 1998; 7:14 a.m. EDT

REIMS, France – A day after the Tour de France ended in Paris, police began questioning members of the Dutch team TVM today about banned drugs found in their possession.

TVM team members pulled out of the race Friday, two days before the end , saying they had neither the physical nor the mental strength to continue.

Six cyclists, along with other team staff members, were questioned today in Reims, north of Paris. The team director, Cees Priem, and its doctor, Andrei Mikhailov, were placed under formal investigation – a step short of being formally charged – on doping charges.

The investigation of the TVM team actually began last March, when customs agents found performance-enhancing drugs in a team car. Officers seized about 100 doses of EPO, which increases oxygen to the red blood cells.

However, it wasn't until the scandal involving the Festina team broke out that the TVM allegations came to light.

Priem and Mikhailov were arrested July 23, and subsequent searches of TVM hotel rooms resulted in the seizure of more drugs. Team members were taken to a hospital in Albertville, where they were subjected to extensive medical checks.

The 17th stage of the race was annulled when the cyclists, angered at the treatment of TVM members, refused to race and merely coasted in a pack to the finish line.

Finally, the TVM riders quit the Tour on July 30 in Switzerland, so they wouldn't have to come back through France.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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