News for September 20, 1998

Contracts and Transfers

* Davy Dubbeldam has left TVM and will ride for a small German team. Laurent Roux leaves TVM for Casino.

Willy Voet Interview

Willy Voet is glad he was arrested. This is the message that he gave in an interview with Gazet van Antwerpen.

"Doping was nearly the end for me. I transported EPO for Festina for six years. It brought me trouble, misery and it caused me a good deal of worry. My wife didn't want to have this stuff in our house. I was constantly undergoing large stress. Really, I'm very glad it's all over now."

Willy Voet, the Festina-soigneur, was arrested just before the start of the Tour de France. This is the first time after he was released from prison that he has talked openly about the use of illegal drugs in the peloton.

"Doctor Eric Rijckaert and rider Pascal Hervé swear on the heads of their kids they never had anything to do with doping. They should cut off their heads. Richard Virenque is lying too. Don't these gentlemen understand that in this way they maintain the use of dope in the peloton?"

Voet: "It's time to talk. If everybody will do the same in the future, there will be no change ever."

Gazet van Antwerpen: When did the organized doping start in Festina?

Willy Voet: In 1992, when the team started. Doctor Rijckaert came with the PDM-clan including Rooks and Van Poppel. Rijckaert knew a lot. Of course, before that time it wasn't clean but it was not organized. It was everyone for his own and they used other stuff.

Did you know that you transported EPO and what the risk was?

Not in the beginning. I thought I was transporting drugs which were to aid in the riders' recuperation. After some time I realised what I was transporting. I'm not being a hypocrite about this. And honestly, I was worried about it. But if your boss gives you an order, you do it. I was afraid to be fired.

It wasn't possible to talk about it?

I talked one time with team manager Bruno Roussel and they should look for another solution.

Was there a reason why you wanted to stop with it?

Yes. In 1996 the police visited some teams in the Giro. MG team manager Giancarlo Ferretti was arrested. From that moment I lived with strong stress. Sometimes the stuff was in my refrigerator at home. After some time my wife didn't want that anymore. That was the reason I had so many ampoules in my car when they caught me. I took everything with me. More than 400 ampoules, enough for....'

... to supply the whole peloton?

(laugh) That's isn't the truth. 400 ampoules are 200 doses, because you have to put water to the powder. That was the mistake of the customs officers.

Besides the ampoules they found the written records of the doping with you?

A diary of 1998 with everything about the team. The feelings of each rider by time, their illnesses and injuries and which forbidden products were used. By example, during a tour, Doctor Rijckaert usually supplied me at night with a list of each of the riders who had visited him in his room. I would write this information into the diary.

You knew that they were illegal products. You felt uncomfortable about it but you still kept playing this game.?

Can you understand how difficult it is to believe you are mostly victum instead of the (co-)offender? Probably a lot of people don't believe me. I'll try to explain... It was good for my ego to know that the doctor and the team management trusted me so much. I learned a lot, and - really - not only about forbidden products. But now I know - afterwards - they only used me.'

They used you because your love for cycling and the team, your gullability, vanity and naivety?

Yes, I suppose you can explain it like that. And I thought - they will not ever catch me. But at the end I was glad they caught me. I was glad it was over.

Some sources say that the tip came from a former Festina-soigneur.

I'm not sure about that. I can't prove anything. But I have the feeling it wasn't by chance. I don't believe the fired soigneur was involved. But you can have some questions after seeing him on TV as soigneur of Pascal Hervé after some months.

Bad news for Veggerby

Jens Veggerby underwent further surgery on Wednesday for his broken collarbone, and the doctors said, that they doubt he will be ready again for pro bike-racing. In about 1 month he can start training again (lightly), and then we'll just have to see. Jens is very strong mentally, so perhaps.

Meanwhile Rolf Sorensen will replace Jens at this seasons 1st 6 days race in Herning, Denmark. Rolf and Jimmi Madsen will ride as pair no. 7, which normally is "the" Danish pair at the Danish 6 days races. Also Bjarne Riis has withdrawn from the race in Herning, where he last year teamed up with Silvio Martinello. Riis is still bothered from the injury that kept him out of Tour of Denmark, Vuelta Espana and the Championships in Valkenburg

Pan American Championships

Rodrigo Gini, our Brazilian correspondent writes that his friend Claudia Carceroni ended with the bronze on the Panamerican Championships Women Road Race, that took place yesterday at Americana. Gold went to Karen-Bliss Livingston, helped by her teammate Liz Emery. The women completed 7 laps of a hilly circuit, 10 kms long. Heat was again a problem. Seven countries were represented at the start (Brasil, USA, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela).

For the first laps the tempo was not hard. Everybody were waiting for an attack by the Americans. But they waited a while as it happened just two laps from the end. Emery, Livingston and Carceroni opened a comfortable gap. The Brazilian could not match the Americans however and their two-up strategy worked well.

Tomorrow (Sunday), Claudia will be here in Belo Horizonte racing a night criterium before go back to France. She confirmed she will race in Valkenburg, as well as in Winnipeg (Pan-Am Games 1999). Her target is get the spot to Sydney Olympic Games. She was in Barcelona 1988.

Cycling Journalist dies

Matthew Mantell, cycling and sport journalist for numerous publications, died this afternoon near his home in Rhinebeck, New York, in a car accident. More details will follow as they become available.