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.Reuse content