Australian cycling ace Michael Rogers will face the consequences if is is ever proved that he was involved in doping at T-Mobile, said the German outfit’s American manager Bob Stapleton.
However Stapleton, speaking in ‘Die Welt’ newspaper to be published Thursday, is standing firmly behind Rogers as the Aussie deflects the flak from allegations levelled at the German team by Patrik Sinkewitz.
Sinkewitz has been giving evidence to the German cycling federation following a positive test for the banned male hormone testosterone prior to the 2007 Tour de France.
The German ace, who rode with Rogers at their former team Quick-Step, is believed to have claimed that several Tour de France team members visited a Freiburg University Clinic days before the 2006 Tour started, and that blood transfusions took place during the Tour.
Rogers is the only rider from that Tour team who is still riding for T-Mobile, however Stapleton is giving the former three-time world time trial champion the benefit of the doubt – at least for the moment.
“What we know is that Rogers was part of a very strictly controlled anti-doping programme in 2007, and that he has complied entirely with our own anti-doping rules,” Stapleton told Die Welt.
“Michael has told us he was not involved in the doping practices which Sinkewitz has described. If the facts say otherwise, we will act and take our responsibilities.”
Rogers joined T-Mobile in 2006 after playing a leading role in helping former French cycling icon Richard Virenque to win a record seventh King of the Mountains title at Quick-Step.
Soon after the Australian, who hails from Canberra, was forced into some
backpedalling by the German team after it was revealed – and confirmed by Rogers – that he had been working with Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari, who has stood trial on charges of administering banned substances to athletes.
Stapleton meanwhile believes that 2008 will be a “decisive” year for cycling and for the future of the T-Mobile team – which he is aiming to return to respectability following some unsavoury revelations.
“This coming year, as well as testing all our riders’ blood samples for every kind of manipulation we are also testing them for every other detectable substance, like growth hormones and EPO (erythropoietin),” he said.
According to Sport1.de, T-Mobile’s sponsors, Deutsche Telekom, are starting to put some distance between itself and the team it has sponsored since 1991.
A confession by current CSC team manager Bjarne Riis, who admitted in May that he had used the banned blood booster EPO throughout his Telekom (which became T-Mobile) career, has done little to charm the team’s sponsor.
© BikeRadar & AFP 2007