By Agence France Presse
French officials have confirmed that they are investigating blood doping equipment discovered in a search of medical supplies belonging to the Astana team of Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong during this year’s Tour de France.
The find, which was first reported by French newspaper Le Monde, was confirmed on Wednesday to AFP by a source close to a French judicial investigation. Blood transfusions are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The source stressed that the initial inquiry by a Paris magistrates’ court was continuing and that it was premature to suggest possession of the equipment itself might constitute a doping violation.
The court in Paris opened its inquiry in July after the discovery during the Tour de France won by Contador of medical equipment such as “syringes and perfusions.”
“No trace of any doping product has for the time being been uncovered by the analysis of this material,” the source added.
According to Le Monde anti-hypertensive medications were also found at Astana during the search.
Anti-hypertensives themselves are not banned but can be used to treat hypertension associated with the practice of blood doping or the use of the banned blood booster EPO.
Analysis of other products and equipment taken by investigators is continuing, the source said, adding that tests of used equipment had shown the presence of “seven distinct genetic profiles.”
Specific identification of those profiles can only be made if and when the UCI hands over riders’ blood profiles to French investigators.
While Contador will continue to race for Astana in 2010, Armstrong left to form the new U.S.-based RadioShack team.