Controversy visited the Tour de France on the eve of its 109th edition, set to begin at Copenhagen. Danish police officers- investigating on behalf of French prosecutors- raided Bahrain Victorious’ hotel rooms for the second time in a week at the break of dawn on Thursday. During the 2021 edition, they came under a cloud of suspicion when prosecutors launched an initial investigation into alleged doping violations by the team.
Riders and staff of Bahrain Victorious refused to field questions on the ongoing investigations. The team did, however, release a statement acknowledging the same. It reads:
“Following the police search into some staff and riders’ homes on Monday, the Team Bahrain Victorious hotel was searched by Danish Police at the request of the French Prosecutors this morning at 5:30 am. The officers searched all team vehicles, staff and riders’ rooms. The team fully cooperated with all the officers’ requests, and the search was completed within two hours. No items were seized from the team. Following the police search, the team is now looking forward to focusing on the world’s biggest and best cycling race, Tour de France. The team will make no further comment on the subject.”
Speaking in the aftermath of the twin raids, the team’s performance manager Vladimir Miholjevic insisted that they were “sleeping like babies and working like horses”. A combative presence, he dared investigators and cycling authorities alike to spend time with the team:
“Someone who is interested to see how we are working can join our team for a period of time and maybe these people will understand the effort that staff and riders are putting in their jobs to achieve their results,” quotes VeloNews.
While the team denies any wrongdoing, the Marseille-based public prosecutor’s office stated that they had seized materials from multiple European countries from across various racing events:
“This material reportedly includes “electronic equipment (telephones, computers, hard drives) and medicines whose nature and origin are still unknown. All items seized will be further investigated and analyzed,” quotes VeloNews.
Intermittent raids have been an unwanted but necessary part of the Tour since widespread doping violations came to light in the 1990s, most notably the infamous Festina affair in 1998.