Cycling: French police release two from custody in Arkea-Samsic doping probe

FILE PHOTO: Cycling - Tour de France - Stage 4 - Sisteron to Orcieres-Merlette - France - September 1, 2020. Team Arkea-Samsic riders before the start. Pool via REUTERS/Stuart Franklin/File Photo

MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) - French police have released two people who were being questioned as part of an investigation into suspected doping by the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, the Marseille prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday.

During a raid on the team’s hotel in Meribel after the competition’s 17th stage, investigators found health products, including substances and items that could be linked to doping.

Investigators had been questioning two people among the close entourage of the team’s lead rider Nairo Quintana, a twice runner-up in the Tour de France and a Vuelta and Giro champion.

Quintana, who was allowed to continue working with his own doctor when he signed a three-year deal with Arkea-Samsic this year, denied using any banned substances. He said he had earlier answered investigators’ questions with “a clear conscience”.

The Colombian said only “perfectly legal vitamin supplements” had been found in the search last week.

The pair were released from custody on Tuesday night and the investigation continues, the Marseille prosecutor’s office said in a statement.

Arkea-Samsic team manager Emmanuel Hubert said on Monday that the investigation did “not target the team or its staff directly”.

Reporting by Marc Leras in Marseille; Writing by Richard Lough, Editing by William Maclean