Godefroot protests innocence

Ex-Telekom directeur sportif says he is guilty of nothing more than naivety. procycling.com's Mark A


Ex-Telekom directeur sportif says he is guilty of nothing more than naivety. procycling.com’s Mark A

The former Telekom/T Mobile directeur sportif Walter Godefroot has responded to the allegations that he co-ordinated the team’s doping programme in the mid 1990s. The Belgian, who held the post from 1992 – 2005, spoke at a press conference in the town of Ghent today in which he stated that he was “unaware of the doping practices of the riders and was not behind the system.” The finger had been pointed at Godefroot in a book written by the former team soigneur Jef d’Hont who directly accused the ex-directeur sportif of orchestrating the programme. The book has already to led to a raft of confessions by former Telekom riders including Bjarne Riis and Erik Zabel as well as by the team’s own former doctors. In the press conference Godefroot claimed his only mistake was naivety. “I took care of the organisation of the team and the race preparation programmes but at the end of the day I was fairly detached from the riders themselves,” he said. “At the time I had 100% confidence in the doctors and never got involved in medical matters. I never raised the subject [of doping] with the riders.” While protesting his innocence Godefroot did, however, state that in 1996 he told the UCI that he, “suspected the existence of substances which were harmful to the health of riders.” He said; “The fact that I didn’t exactly know what was going on did not mean that I was blind to the point of not knowing that something was infiltrating the peloton in the mid 1990s. “But believe me,” he told reporters, “before 1996 I didn’t even know what the terms EPO or haematocrits meant. But OK, certain riders were going beyond their abilities and it was down to my initiative that measures were taken against the use of EPO.” Godefroot said he was launching legal action against d’Hont to clear his name. “I have always formally denied these accusations, I cannot tolerate them and I know I have the support of [Telekom team] staff members, collaborators and certain riders.” Inevitably the “Ullrich question” was raised during the press conference but, echoing the line of others embroiled in the affair, Godefroot said he could only speak about himself and would not comment on anyone else’s situation.