17 Jan 2004

Top New Caledonian cyclist questioned in France over sports drugs trafficking

9:14 am on 17 January 2004

The New Caledonian cycling world is in shock, following the implication of one of its top cyclists in a sports drugs-trafficking scandal in France.

Robert Sassone, who has been based in France for several years, was held for questioning earlier this week, after police seized a significant quantity of banned

performance-enhancing drugs at his French home.

Sassone has denied he is a trafficker, saying the drugs were for his personal use.

Observers say the scandal has jeopardised his chances of competing in the Athens Olympics later ths year.

At least two other members of Sassone's former team, Cofidis, are also under investigation, but New Caledonia's other cycling hero, the triple world-racing champion, Laurent Gane, is not involved.