The Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC) reprimanded team Europcar yesterday over its actions surrounding Pierre Rolland's abnormal cortisol levels during the Critérium du Dauphiné.
"The strict application of our rules of procedure, on a voluntary basis, is required by all our members," read a press release. "The team should not have permitted Pierre Rolland to ride as an outcome of the analysis results."
The movement suspended the team's membership and the team's management from serving on the board of directors.
The French second division team is one of 40 MPCC member teams, which are required to follow a strict code of conduct. Above and beyond testing by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), members agree that their riders will undergo cortisol testing.
Rolland produced an 'abnormal' cortisol test ahead of the final stage at the Critérium du Dauphiné this month. Low cortisol readings potentially indicate cortisone use.
Given the movement's rules, Rolland should have sat out of racing for eight days. Instead of benching its star GC rider, however, Europcar allowed him to continue racing in the Dauphiné.
"He was tested at 6:45, at sunrise," Team Manager Jean-René Bernaudeau told French daily, L'Equipe. "Normally, it takes a half an hour to get reliable results, which wasn't possible due to the very early start time of the stage. We contacted the [MPCC] Doctor Armand Mégret, who authorised his start."
Mégret denied authorising Rolland's departure in the final Dauphiné stage. Either way, Rolland abandoned after 20 kilometres because of tendonitis in his Achilles.
Bernaudeau later explained that a nasal spray along with fatigue caused the low reading. The movement, however, was unhappy with how Europcar handled the case. It suspended Bernaudeau and the team's doctor, Hubert Long, from its board of directors until its next meeting.
More cortisol controls
The MPCC asked earlier this month that all teams in the Tour de France, not just its members, be subject to cortisol controls.
"Among the 22 teams taking part to the Tour de France, 14 are MPCC members," read a press release. The MPCC told the French Minister of Sports Valérie Fourneyron, "It would be logical that all of the 22 teams be controlled the same way and get an external medical supervision."
Sky is among eight teams - including BMC Racing, Cannondale, Euskaltel, Movistar, Omega Pharma-Quick Step, RadioShack-Leopard and Saxo-Tinkoff - that are not members of the movement.
Europcar faces questions over Pierre Rolland's cortisol levels
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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