Virenque's drug fear

Richard Virenque told the 1998 Tour de France doping trial in Lille yesterday that he feared the long-term effects of doping on his health.

Richard Virenque told the 1998 Tour de France doping trial in Lille yesterday that he feared the long-term effects of doping on his health.

The French Festina rider, who this week admitted taking drugs after denying it for more than two years, said: "I will see to the consequences later. But I hope my life will last as long as possible. The most important thing for me now is to see my children grow up."

The Festina team was thrown off the Tour in 1998 after police uncovered organised doping.

Virenque, explaining his motive, said: "Early in life, I realised I did not have intellectual potential, so I dedicated myself to cycling. After a while, suffering becomes harder. Your heartbeats swing from 140 to 180 a minute for long hours. It's not just like walking up stairs, you can only overcome pain with treatment [doping in cycling slang] and fans' support."

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