Latest: D'Hont book; Tinkoff say yes to Hamilton and Jaksche
Ex-Telekom and Francaise des Jeux soigneur Jef D’Hont’s new book has ruffled some big feathers in th
D’Hont book fans flames Belgian ex-soigneur Jef D’Hont’s book describing the seamier side of the peloton has been met with storms of protest from those he accuses of doping. The book, entitled Memoires van een wielerverzorger (Memoirs of a soigneur), details D’Hont’s time at the Telekom team between 1992 and 1996. He alleges that the team had an organised doping program, with the then team manager Walter Godefroot, sports director Rudy Pevenage and the University Clinic in Freiburg all involved, and Jan Ullrich and Bjarne Riis getting EPO injections. “The team directors and the doctors were initially against the introduction of EPO to the team, but the successes of the Italian teams opened our eyes: ‘It was EPO or we couldn’t keep up’,” wrote D’Hont in an excerpt published by Der Spiegel this week. He claimed that Uwe Ampler was the first rider within the team to take EPO “of his own accord, in 1993.” “Doctors from the University of Freiburg supplied us with the product. The chemist in Freiburg was paid per prescription via the bvba Godefroot in Drongen [Telekom’s management company]. And Godefroot wanted the riders to pay back every last cent.” When Rudy Pevenage came to Telekom in 1994, Godefroot handed over the responsibility for doping to him, wrote D’Hont. “You can go a long way, but you understand that I can’t burn my hands,” Godefroot allegedly told Pevenage. “You have my full support, but if you ever run into problems, then I have to let you go.” Walter Godefroot has always denied that he had anything to do with, or even knew about doping within his team. “I first want to read the book completely,” said Godefroot to the Belgian media. “D’Hont is playing the man and not the ball. This is a personal affair with me. Nothing more and nothing less. I won’t say much more about this, save for the fact that I can say in all honesty and knowledge that I’ve never organised doping within the team. Also I’ve never pushed my riders to take forbidden substances, whatever anyone else says.” The University of Freiburg has also denied the allegations of Jef D’Hont, but it will appoint an external commission to investigate doctors Lothar Heinrich and Andreas Schmid, who have long been associated with the Telekom and T-Mobile teams. “The University distances itself from these serious accusations,” read a statement from the University of Freiburg. “But it will still do everything it can to obtain clarity in this affair. Therefore we are appointing this external commission.” T-Mobile is taking the allegations seriously, as its two doctors are central to its current anti-doping platform. If true, “That would destroy our program,” team manager Bob Stapleton was quoted in the German media as saying. D’Hont’s book is in a similar vein to ex-Festina soigneur Willy Voet’s Massacre a la Chaine. He claims that he wrote it at the instigation of Belgian politician Jean-Marie Dedecker, and it was “for the young riders, the champions of tomorrow. They have seen that it can be different.” But D’Hont’s detractors say that he is doing it for the money. Tinkoff: Hamilton and Jaksche not suspended The Tinkoff Credit Systems team has denied that it has suspended Tyler Hamilton and Jrg Jaksche for the Giro d’Italia. Italian paper La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that both were on the bench because they were linked to Operacion Puerto. But Tinkoff’s team manager Omar Piscina told the Associated Press, “We have no intention of suspending Hamilton or Jaksche. We haven’t received any sort of notice from the authorities and nobody is investigating them as far as we know.” Despite this, it’s still not certain that Hamilton and Jaksche will be allowed to ride the first of the grand tours. The organisers of the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espa¤a all signed an agreement last Thursday stating that they would not invited Puerto-implicated riders to their races. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.