This year Laurent Jalabert fractured his tibia, fibula and injured his shoulder when he was hit by a car while riding his bike near home.
That’s not half as painful as the bus that L’Equipe just drove over him. The French newspaper reported that Jalabert had taken EPO during the 1998 Tour de France based on retroactive testing.
There was no test for EPO back in 1998 — that was the year the juiced Marco Pantani won the race. Jalabert’s ONCE squad ran their own in-house doping program, not as professional as the one Lance Armstrong would later employ, but enough to get the former sprinter a few GC wins in the Vuelta a Espana.
In the wake of that news, Jalabert also lost his TV and radio. Tough week, huh? He had a gig on France Télévisions as a cycling commentator and during the Tour could always be heard on RTL radio with his own show Club Jalabert. Make that club with just one member.
It’s somewhat ironic that he has been kicked off the Tour media — after all, long time doper and serial liar Richard Virenque is still popular as a commentator and always draws a crowd at the Tour. Show up at the Tour and you’ll likely see Virenque’s smiling face on the side of one media car and Jalabert’s face on the media car parked alongside.
Jalabert said he’s stepping down from those media duties to focus on his defense but we all know he was pushed. With just four days until the Tour kicks off, that’s gotta hurt. Like falling off a ladder while changing a lightbulb.
The timing of the L’Equipe story is worth questioning. It’s a good readership boost for the newspaper but given their long standing connections to Tour boss ASO, you wonder why they couldn’t hold it until after the Tour.
There may be more big names soon to be implicated by the retroactive testing. The French Senate anti-doping commission has interviewed 84 people since March — including Jalabert — and their report will hit the public on July 18th.
Again, timing. That’s four days before the end of the 100th birthday edition of Le Tour. Have to believe Tour officials are begging for an extra week so they can celebrate in style without more old doping cases distracting people from the Paris fireworks.
When Jalabert had his terrible crash, he was momentarily unconscious. Perhaps he wishes the blow to the head had erased all memory of his illegal doping practices. Then he could confidently pass any lie detector test.
At the time of his accident, the doctor reported that “his condition is not life-threatening.” Well, the L’Equipe news on Jalabert’s failed EPO test is certainly career-terminating.