41 Convictions in Doping Trial
May. 31, 2001
POITIERS, France (AP) _ Forty-one people were convicted Thursday by a French court for roles in an international network that provided performance-enhancing drugs to amateur cyclists.
Following a four-day trial, six people were sentenced to prison terms of up to five years and 11 were given suspended sentences.
The remaining 24 defendants were fined from about $320 to $1,000.
The trial was the first in France involving doping among amateur cyclists. Prosecutors described a drug network stretching through Belgium and Poland.
The case emerged in 1998 when two amateur cyclists in western France were found to have injected themselves with drugs, including amphetamines, cocaine, morphine and analgesics. An investigation revealed the network of suppliers.
The most severe penalty, five years in prison, was given to Polish supplier Mieczyslaw Korycki. His wife, Bozena, received a two-year sentence. Both were being tried in absentia.
The other defendants who were given prison terms have already spent enough time behind bars to cover their sentences.
Two leaders of the network in France, Jacques Guillendou and Claude Deschamps, were sentenced to 30 months in prison, with 27 of those months suspended.
Laurent Sillard, a lawyer for Guillendou and four other defendants, called the decision ``fair and informative.''
``We've put a stop to the business of doping and were not going to send people to prison when they recognize the gravity of their acts,'' Sillard said.
The cycling world has suffered a series of image-tarnishing blows since 1998, when the prestigious Tour de France was nearly derailed by a doping scandal.
In Reims, France, three former officials with the Dutch cycling team TVM are on trial on charges of giving banned performance-enhancing drugs to team cyclists during the scandal-plagued 1998 Tour.