PAU, France (AFP) — Alexander Vinokourov, Iban Mayo and Cristian Moreni have been cleared criminal charges stemming from doping violations that occurred during the 2007 Tour de France, it was announced by the public prosecutor in Pau, France, on Thursday.
Police launched a probe following the 2007 edition of the race, during which Kazakh star Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping.
Mayo, who spent the bulk of his career with Euskaltel, tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin) while Moreni, formerly of Cofidis, revealed excess levels of testosterone.
A police investigation was launched after the cyclists’ hotels were raided by police on July 24 and 25, 2007 during the race’s second rest day in Pau.
However in the absence of evidence, and the UCI’s refusal to hand over blood or urine samples that would prove they had broken French law, presiding judge Céline Pages-Couderc said she had no option but to clear all three riders of any wrongdoing, according to the public prosecutor for Pau, Jean-Christophe Muller.
Despite being in possession of three warrants to investigate the riders, Pages-Couderc “was unable to obtain any of the samples” taken from the riders from the UCI, Muller told AFP.
The scandal surrounding Vinokourov in Pau led to his Astana team being thrown off the race. The Kazakh was subsequently handed a two-year ban. Cofidis were also forced out, in accordance with race regulations.
The day after the final stage the Saunier Duval team announced that Mayo had tested positive for EPO during the rest day in Pau.
The 2007 edition was also notable for the premature exit of Dane Michael Rasmussen. He had been in the race’s yellow jersey and on his way to victory until heavy doping suspicions led to his Rabobank team pulling him out.
Alberto Contador inherited the race lead and went on to win the race, with a 23-second advantage over Cadel Evans.