Sport: Roche's name again to forefront in doping investigation

Sunday 09 January 2000 12.51

The investigation into the activities of Italian Sports Doctor Professor Francesco Conconi has once again brought the name of Stephen Roche to the forefront. Reports in today's Sunday Times allege that files seized by the police indicate that Roche did indeed use the performance enhancing drug erythropoietin (EPO). The files, seized from Conconi's headquarters at the University of Ferrara, contain a list of 23 names that includes that of Roche, and are central in the investigation into blood doping in sport currently underway in Italy. Roche again denied using the drug yesterday, saying, "I can't understand why this is in the files. I would love to be able to get Conconi to stand up and say that I took EPO because I know I didn't."

The 1987 Tour de France winner was administered the drug in 1993, his last year in the peloton, according to the files. The files also give a number of aliases for Roche and many of the athletes named. Roche is also referred to as Rocchi, Rossi, Rocca, Roncati, Righi and Rossini. It is understood that Professor Conconi was experimenting to find a test to identify the use of EPO by athletes and that in 1993 he presented a report to the International Olympic Council (IOC) on his findings. The IOC backed this research, which Conconi claimed was conducted using 23 amateur athletes all of whom had given written consent. It has now emerged however that test results for Roche and his fellow elite athletes match those presented by Conconi in his report to the IOC.