Two top officials of the Dutch cycling team TVM were placed under formal investigation by French authorities today for the use of the performance-enhancing drug EPO.

Sporting director Cees Priem and team doctor Andrei Mikhailov were likely to be formally charged in the latest chapter of the drugs scandal overshadowing the Tour de France.TVM came under the spotlight when it emerged that EPO had been found in the car of one of its officials in March.

Police later found evidence of used drugs in a suitcase and trash can during a search of the team's hotel in Toulouse and Metz, though the nature of the drugs is still not known.

Rival team Festina has already been expelled from the Tour in connection with the widespread use of the EPO.

As the scandal grows, two former Festina cyclists, Emmanuel Magnien and Gilles Bouvard, have also been brought in for questioning in Lille.

"There is no doubt that all the former cyclists at Festina will be interrogated," prosecutor Gerald Vinsonneau said.

Authorities in Lille said that Bruno Roussel, Festina's sporting director, would likely be released by Wednesday.