Cycling: Virenque quits over Festina drug claims

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The Independent Online
STILL MAINTAINING that he never took banned drugs, Richard Virenque says he will retire from cycling because the doping scandals overshadowing the sport are preventing him from finding a new team.

Virenque, 29, has been unable to find a team since last month's decision by Festina to break with the cyclist. On Sunday he issued a statement saying that he would be quitting the sport.

"He [Virenque] has the impression that he is leaving a job unfinished and he wants to apologise to his supporters. He would like to keep making them dream, but it is not possible anymore," said the statement by Virenque, issued in the third person.

"You can't beat a whole army of journalists who only want one thing, for him to stop," his wife, Stephanie Virenque, told Europe 1 radio. "Today, we are unfortunately obliged to tell them that they have won."

But she added that if another team were to offer Virenque a contract, he would be back in the saddle.