Bahrain Victorious respond after researchers reveal riders at ‘three-week race in France’ had muscle relaxant in their systems

While the research paper doesn’t name the team, riders or race, Bahrain were raided by police at the Tour de France

Bahrain Victorious at the Tour de France
Bahrain Victorious at the Tour de France
(Image credit: Getty)

Bahrain Victorious have released a statement responding to a research paper that claimed three unnamed riders were found to have a muscle relaxant in their system at major “three-week cyclist race in France.”  

Researchers from the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Strasbourg, France were asked by police to carry out drug tests on hair samples taken from seven riders during a race earlier this year, with the results revealing that three riders had the substance tizanidine in their system.

In their report, the researchers refer to an “international three-week cyclist race in France” where police searched the team’s rooms and found medical devices and products. 

While the research paper did not name the riders, race, or the team involved, WorldTour team Bahrain Victorious have responded to the revelation, after they were raided by French health police during the 2021 Tour de France. 

In a statement sent to Cyclingnews, Bahrain Victorious 

A  spokesperson for the Bahraini-funded team said: “Team Bahrain Victorious and any of its riders have not been officially or unofficially notified about any findings related to tizanidine or other substances.

“The team would like to stress that the authors of the scientific article to which all allegations refer have unambiguously pointed out that tizanidine is not a prohibited substance in sport.

"The team is consulting legal advice about the nature in which this information was published during an ongoing investigation without the team being notified which has impacted the team’s reputation. At this moment, the team has no further comments."

According to the paper, published in the Wiley Analytical Science Journal in September, after officers searched the team’s rooms and found medical devices and products, a forensic specialist was called in to take hair samples from seven of the riders.  

Police reportedly found boxes of tizanidine in the team doctor’s room, prompting forensic experts to test riders for the substance, the paper said. 

Tizanidine, sold under the brand name Zanaflex or Sirdalud, is used to treat muscle spasticity linked with conditions like spinal cord injury or MS. Side effects can include dizziness, drowsiness, weakness, to more serious effects like hallucination and depression.  

The substance is not banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency but its potential applications in professional cycling are unclear. 

Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex is the digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.