Doping revealed in Dutch cycling

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 23, 2013 13:00 hrs

The Hague, Jan 23 (IANS) The doping confession of Lance Armstrong in an interview with Oprah Winfrey last week has led to a series of confessions and doping disclosure in the Dutch media.

Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad Saturday published anonymous revelations about doping in the Dutch Rabobank team. Rabobank entered cycling in 1996, at a time when the forbidden performance-enhancing drug EPO was common in the peloton. Because the team did not perform well that year, the management decided to allow the use of EPO, given by team doctor Geert Leinders. In 2008, the new leadership team is said to have abandoned doping from the team, reports Xinhua.

In October last year Rabobank decided to end sponsorship after 17 years. The bank had lost its confidence in cycling following the devastating report by the United States Anti Doping Authority (USADA), in which among others, former Rabobank rider Levi Leipheimer confessed to have used EPO during his period in the Dutch team.

Former cyclist Danny Nelissen (42) was one of the riders with an anonymous statement in the NRC newspaper. Later Saturday, he admitted against TV channel RTL4 to have used EPO as a Rabobank rider in the Tour de France of 1996 and 1997. Nelissen said he became amateur world champion in 1995 without the use of doping. When he turned professional in 1996 he found it difficult to compete against foreign supremacy.

"We were ridiculed, humiliated. The team management organised a meeting, we had to do something. I never had to buy it myself, it was a team issue. I do not know how it went later," said Nelissen.

Former cyclist Marc Lotz Sunday also revealed to have doped during his years at the Rabobank team. Lotz was a member of the team from 1997 to 2004.

"Since 2001 I started using stimulants, steroids and EPO. I heard in the peloton around me what happened. To remain competitive, I did it," he said.

Lotz was suspended in 2005 for two years after he was caught with EPO-ampoules being found in his apartment. He was riding for QuickStep that year.

De Volkskrant Wednesday wrote a story about the use of doping at the former PDM team. Seven of eight riders from the PDM team doped in the 1988 Tour de France, reports the newspaper based on the notebook of Bertus Fok, medical attendant of the team.

In his notebook, he administered the use of illegal drugs by every rider. Doping in the PDM team was already known but not that it already happened in the 1988 Tour de France. Riders like Steven Rooks and Gert-Jan Theunisse had already admitted to doping in the past.

Current rider Garmin-Sharp Thomas Dekker, 28, was suspended in 2009 for two years, suspended for EPO use. He admitted last weekend that during his time with Rabobank in 2007 he also used blood doping. The rider of Garmin Sharp said Wednesday that he will reveal all the details of his doping past, soon.

Last week Dutch professional cycling teams, the Dutch Anti-Doping Authority and the national union KNWU presented a joint approach against doping.

The parties agreed that before April 1 all employees of the Dutch professional cycling teams Blanco Pro Cycling, Vacansoleil-DCM en Argos-Shimano will have filled in a signed statement and questionnaire truthfully, a so called "Declaration of good behaviour".

All employees who admit doping violations which happened before April 1, 2008, will be suspended for 'only' six months and fined with three months' salary less but they can keep their jobs. Cyclists confessing doping crimes after Jan 1, 2008 will immediately be dismissed.

Meanwhile, the pressure on more former cyclists to follow the example of Nelissen grows in the media. Many doping confession might follow in Dutch, and international, cycling.

More from Sify: