VILLIE-MORGON, France — The longtime problem of doping hit the Tour de France head-on when a French rider was arrested Tuesday at his team hotel and suspended by his team.
Police made their move on the Tour's first rest day in arresting Cofidis cyclist Remy Di Gregorio, with judicial officials saying two other people suspected of supplying the Frenchman with banned substances were also arrested — one along with the rider in Bourg-en-Bresse, and another in Marseille.
The officials requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
Di Gregorio's arrest comes after an investigation that began in June 2011 and is led by the French police agency responsible for doping investigations and Marseille police.
"(The police) have followed Remy's actions for a good while," Cofidis manager Yvon Sanquer said at a news conference. "If I had ever been aware or anyone else had been aware, Remy's time with the team would have been over the very moment when we learned of it."
Sanquer, who took up his post two days before the start of the race, said he found out about the arrest from police just before the team went on a training ride in the morning.
Sanquer said Di Gregorio's teammates reacted with a mix of "anger and devastation … when I explained the situation to them, it was painful for them. There were tears."
Di Gregorio, 26, was in 35th place after Monday's ninth stage. He turned pro in 2005 with French team Francaise des Jeux and was once considered one of the most promising young French riders.
Former Armstrong staffers receive lifetime doping bans
With Lance Armstrong still digging in for a legal fight, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency issued lifetime sports bans to three former staff members and consultants on Armstrong's winning Tour de France teams for doping violations.
Luis Garcia del Moral was a team doctor; Michele Ferrari was a consulting doctor; and Jose "Pepe" Marti (team trainer) worked for Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel squads. All had been accused by USADA of participating in a vast doping conspiracy on those teams during part or all of Armstrong's seven Tour de France victories from 1999-2005.
Armstrong also has been charged. He wants a federal judge to block USADA's case against him from going forward and is expected to refile a lawsuit. An Armstrong spokesman declined comment on the USADA bans.
Moral, Marti and Ferrari had until Monday to challenge the allegations in arbitration or ask for a five-day extension. USADA says the ban blocks them from participating in any sport that falls under the World Anti-Doping Agency code.
"The respondents chose not to waste resources by moving forward with the arbitration process, which would only reveal what they already know to be the truth of their doping activity," said Travis Tygart, chief executive of USADA.