PARIS (Reuters) - Former Tour of Spain champion Laurent Jalabert has temporarily given up his consultancy job with French television and radio on the Tour de France following a report that he used banned substance erythropoietin in 1998, his employers said on Tuesday.
“Laurent Jalabert wants to suspend his commentator activities until light is shed on the accusations he’s facing,” French public broadcaster France Television and private radio RTL said in statements.
“France Television take note of his decision with regrets, hoping to be able to renew its confidence in him soon.”
French sports daily L‘Equipe said a 1998 Tour de France sample from Jalabert, which was re-tested in 2004, showed traces of the blood-booster EPO.
Jalabert, who on Monday expressed surprise at the report, said he was trying to protect the reputation of the Tour de France, the 100th edition of which begins in in Corsica on Saturday.
“What is at stake is to stay a man of integrity as I’ve always been and to not taint the Tour de France reputation,” he told France 2 channel midday news edition.
“I don’t deny the possibility that (the report) is true. I can’t say it’s wrong, I can’t say it’s true,” added the 1997 time-trial world champion, who has said he never questioned his ONCE team’s doctor at that time.
Jalabert, who twice won both the points classification and the mountain classification on the Tour, withdrew with his team from the 1998 Tour after protesting that all riders were being labelled as cheats following the Festina doping scandal.
Writing by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Ed Osmond