Michel Pollentier (born 13 February 1951 in Diksmuide, West Flanders) is a Belgian former professional road bicycle racer.
He became a professional in 1973. The highlight of his career was his overall win in the 1977 Giro d’Italia. Pollentier is one of just three Belgian riders to win the Giro, the others being Eddy Merckx and Johan de Muynck.
In the 1978 Tour de France, he was the Belgian national champion when he won the stage arriving in Alpe d’Huez, took the yellow jersey, and would have been involved in a battle with Joop Zoetemelk and eventual winner Bernard Hinault for the remainder of the race as the three were within +0:30 of one another. However, he was accused of foul play in the succeeding doping test, having used what was described politely as a pear-shaped tube (in fact a condom) of different urine held under the armpit and connected by a plastic tube to give the impression of urinating. Pollentier was uncovered after another rider at the test had trouble operating his own system of tubes and aroused the suspicion of the doctor, who then demanded Pollentier lift his jersey to show if he too was cheating. He was put out of the Tour immediately.
The affair took away most of Pollentier’s credibility in international cycling. Even though he won the 1980 edition of the Tour of Flanders and he also came 3rd in the 1982 Vuelta a España where he was the beneficiary of a doping incident when the initial winner was disqualified bringing him to 2nd overall. 1984 was his last professional season; he finished outside the top 10 at the Vuelta and won the final grand tour stage of his career.
After his cycling career, Pollentier became a car tire garage owner and founded a cycling school.
In “Seigneurs et Forcats du Velo” by Olivier Dazat, Pollentier is quoted as saying that he and another named Belgian cycling champion of the era had trouble after their careers because of drugs they had taken while racing. Dazat quotes him as saying: “I’ve never hesitated to confess that I spent three weeks under the surveillance of Dr. Dejonckheere at the St-Joseph clinic at Ostend and that after treatment… I stayed under his control for another two years. Why hide it? It’s impossible to come out of a situation like that without the help of a doctor.’
Excerpt from Wikipedia
French Cycle Leader Is Banned for Fraud
ALPE D’HUEZ, France, July 16—The overall leader of the Tour de France bicycle endurance race, one of Europe’s most popular sporting spectacles, was disqualified tonight for fraud in a doping test.
Hours after he won a 150‐mile stage of the race by 38 seconds and moved into the lead, Michel Pollentier of Belgium was ruled out of the Tour. He was also fined 1,000 Swiss francs and placed last in today’s race, without possibility of appeal.
According to trustworthy sources, the cyclist was observed offering a urine specimen other than his own in the mandatory test for drugs that is required of the winner of each stage of the 23‐day race.
Officials of the Tour de France, which monopolizes French attention for three weeks every summer, were reported to be stunned by the news, but were not immediately available for comment.
The 27‐year‐old cyclist who races for the Flandria team, was also unavailable for comment.
Just before midnight, representatives of all 11 teams in the race, the most prestigious in cycling, met to decide what the riders would do about the disqualification. The cyclists were obviously angry, but said that no decision was likely before tomorrow, a day off in the race.
Last Wednesday, the entire field staged a slowdown strike to protest their early starting hours. The doping incident is much graver since the problem is of long standing. Some riders insist on the need for stimulants, nearly all of them illegal.
Some. have been caught and penalized, but never before in the Tour has it happened to a leader.
Pollentier, an awkward but strong climber and sprinter, had been fourth overall before today’s stage, the first in the Alps. When he reached this mountain peak after 150 miles of pedaling, the Belgian put on the overall leader’s yellow jersey for the first time in 16 days of competition.
In second place before Pollentier’s disqualification and the new leader afterward was Joop Zoetemelk of the Netherlands. Taking over second place was Bernard Hinault of France, the favorite of the tens of thousands of fans who line the route of the race each day.
Pollentier was said to have returned to his hotel before the drug test to put on a long‐sleeved jersey that concealed a small flask containing another per’s specimen. The flask, it was said was concealed in Pollentier’s right armpit, with a rubber tube leading from the flask down his arm to his wrist
This method of attempting to evade doping controls is allegedly common and so Pollentier aroused the suspicions of the attending physician, Dr. Calvez of the French Cycling Federation, and an inspector of the International Cycling Union, Renato Sacconi.
According to the sources, the officials suddenly grabbed Pollentier’s arm and pulled up his jersey, revealing the tube.
A brief communique was issued reporting the disqualification and noting that the apparatus used by Pollentier had been seized.
Zoetemelk, 31 years old, is seeking his first victory in the tour in his eighth attempt. He has finished second three times but is generally considered to be either too unimaginative or too cerebral, depending on the critic, to believe in himself.
As for Hinault, 23, he has made a formidable debut and promises to improve before the finale next Sunday on the Champs‐Elysees.
“I want to arrive in Paris with a good conscience,” Hinault said between deep breaths after his finish today. Asked if he planned to attack in the mountains or in the race against the clock on Friday, Hinault answered simply, “everywhere.”
He was a big gainer this weekend, although he picked up no time yesterday when he won a sprinting finish into St. Etienne because another cyclist clocked in at the same time.
When the 93 remaining racers set out this morning, Hinault was 1:50 behind Joseph Bruyere, the leader for the last eight days but now sixth overall and out of contention.
Also effectively eliminated was Hennie Kuiper, who finished second to Pollentier and is fourth over all, 5:35 back. Kuiper was 38 seconds behind the stage winner but ‘ran out of chasing room.
The Tour de France is one of Europe’s biggest annual sporting events. It is given big play in the newspapers and the stages of the tour are shown live daily on television in the afternoon, recapped on the evening news, and carried live on several radio stations as well.
The race seems to become the center of French life during July. For a month, newsstands display almost as many magazines devoted to professional bicycling as to food and wine, and photographs of French racers hang in shop windows.
Thousands of people, sometimes waiting in rain or broiling heat for hours, turn out to cheer on the racers.
Alter the considerable expenses are deducted, the racers share about $250,000 in prizes. If he had won, Pollentier would have received, among other benefits, a $20,000 resort apartment.