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Cycling News and Analysis

Second Edition News for May 12, 1999

Frank Vandenbroucke gives a press conference

Frank Vandenbroucke has given a press conference at the Hostellerie de la Place, the cafe-restaurant that his parents run in Ploegsteert on Tuesday morning. He has made some stunning admissions. He said that he had always thought that the substances administered to him by Dr. Mabuse (aka Bernard Sainz) the horse trainer-breeder were homeopathic products but now admitted that he had doubts about them now. Sainz, is being held in custody by Parisien police, suspected of being a central player in a sport's doping ring. VDB has been one of his clients.

Vandenbroucke said at his press conference: "I am anxious. I have doubts. I am awaiting the results of the product analyses." He admitted that since January of this year he has been receiving a lot of treatment from Sainz, initially as drops and then with "injections". VDB said: "He said to me that they were completely legal homeopathic products. I wanted to trust him ... I was under the charm of Dr. Mabuse. I may be considered naive but I am not a dishonest person. I want to believe that Mr. Sainz only gave homeopathic care. I trusted him".

He continued: "I affirm my good faith and I ask my Cofidis sponsor to continue to trust me. I hope that they can lift the suspension that they have placed on me.

Vandenbroucke was suspended on Monday by Cofidis under the pretence that they are "waiting for the business to be completely clarified". It is unclear what that means. If the tests show that VDB was taking banned substances, knowingly or unknowingly, will Cofidis cancel his contract in the same way they sacked Casagrande last year?

Now that VDB has been called upon by Cofidis to explain himself, after being taken in by the Paris police and questioned about his relationships with Lavelot and Sainz, he is have second thoughts about his dealings with the men.

He explained how he came into contact with Sainz. "Lavelot at first wanted me to sign a contract with La Francaise de Jeux. But I preferred to go to Cofidis and he then did all the contractual business involved in this transfer. It was via Lavelot and my friend Philippe Gaumont that I came into contact with Sainz.

He said: "Bernard Sainz proposed that he advise me. He seemed to be a strange man but was clearly a cycling expert. He impressed me greatly by showing me photographs of him administering his treatments to greats like Eddy Merckx, Lucien Van Impe, Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon, Cyril Guimard and many other great sportsmen like Alain Prost. He explained to me that this care was based on natural methods and alternative medicines without endangering my health nor violating the ethics of our sport."

Despite all of this, VDB admitted that he was wary at the beginning and only gained confidence in Dr. Mabuse (who is not a trained medical doctor) slowly. He continued: "Sainz is an extraordinary person. He seems to know so much about the scientific aspects of cycling. I could not compete with his knowledge."

In January 1998, Sainz required each of his "patients to fast twice for three days at a time without eating or drinking. I took only one powder which caused bad diarrhoea. This diet was supposed to clean my body of all its toxins. But for me it seemed to bring me into good form and well being. He also gave me some drops, a homeopathic product, to take each morning when the alarm clock went off - a rate 10 drops per day. I have the feeling that this medicine contributed to my success.

Bernard Sainz then gave VDB a series of injections but told him they were legal. The treatment did not come cheap though. VDB paid Sainz 7,000FF for the homeopathic drops and 50,000FF in total for fees from the start of this year.

"I now have to await the results of the tests they took on Friday in Paris. I don't think I was using banned drugs. But if I was then I will take the responsibility for it and be suspended."

The full text of his statement

This is the complete statement made by Frank Vandenbroucke on Tuesday morning in the restaurant of his father with Plogsteert (Belgium):

"I became acquainted with Bernard Sainz in December 1998, via my teamamate Philippe Gaumont and his lawyer Mr Bertrand Lavelot.

He proposed to advise me. He seemed to be a strange character, but an cycling expert. He seemed to be a talented person with strong convictions. He impressed me greatly by showing me photographs of him treating the great figures of the sport like Eddy Merckx, Lucien Van Impe, Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon, Raymond Poulidor, Cyrille Guimard. And he has cared for other sportsmen like Alain Prost.

He gave me a prestigious list of his references from other people in the cycling millieu. He explained to me that his care was based on natural methods and alternative medicines, without endangering health and respecting all sporting ethics. Being wary at the beginning, I only came to trust him slowly.

When I asked him what his services would cost, he replied that it would be according to my victories and only if I were convinced that he had contributed to my success. That convinced me to work with him.

In January 1999, he asked me to fast 2 times for 3 days a time, without eating or drinking. I was only able to take some powder, which caused bad diarrhoea. This diet was supposed to clean my body of all its toxins. I believe that the treatment improved my form and health.

Moreover, he was very informative about improving my position on the bicycle. My confidence in him was reinforced.

For the first races of 1999 season, he told me to stop taking all the usual recovery products like iron, vitamin B12... etc. To take nothing.

He gave me drops of some homeopathic product which I had to take every morning when the alarm clock went off, at a rate of 10 drops per dose. At first, I did not believe in the treatent. But I began to feel that the homeopathic care was aiding me in my success.

I also had to go for periods of 3 days without drinking to detoxicate me.

Meanwhile, I met a very beautiful woman at his house, a model, who cordially thanked him for having cured her cancer. I also heard her speak on a telephone to another woman who was unable to have a child after 10 years of artificial insemination. After 3 months care with him she fell pregnant.

I was increasingly impressed especially as his methods seemed to be associated with my victories on the bike.

Bernard Sainz then started to give me injections in addition to the homeopathic drops. I asked him what was in the injections. He replied that they were only homeopathic and legal products and that I was to entirely trust him.

I must recognize that I was afraid to upset him and lose his services. I must also recognize that he exerted great influence on me and that I had built a great confidence in him, which led me not to want to know more about what I was taking.

I had and I still have the conviction that the drugs that Mr. Sainz gave me were homeopathic and natural, just as he told me.

I certainly hope that I have not been mistaken and I am waiting to see what the results of the analyses of the products seized yields to know if I were deceived or not.

I was perhaps naive, but I am not a dishonest person.

I think that any young sportsman would be impressed with all his references and his achievements over years of involvement in cycling. Bernard Sainz seems to have had a lot of successes in sport and with private customers.

I wanted to also say that when I was confronted with the problems of my friend and teammate Nico Mattan, who was forced to stop his sporting career due to a cardiac problem, I introduced him to Bernard Sainz. It should be noted that after undergoing care with Sainz, Nico Mattan, without any explanation, has no more symptoms and can race again.

In addition, my tendinitis usually takes a long time to cure. But Bernard Sainz cured me in 2 days when I had a bad Achilles tendon. He used a compress soaked with a homeopathic product that he made me buy in pharmacy.

I would like to also recall that, considering my own sporting performances, I was tested often since the beginning of this season and I have never tested positive for any banned products, which seems to confirm that the products which were administered to me by Bernard Sainz were not prohibited products.

As for the remuneration of Bernard Sainz, I paid him 7,000 FF for his homeopathic drops and in total I have paid him 50,000 FF for his fees, since the beginning of the year.

I hope that my sponsor Cofidis continues to have confidence in me.

Meanwhile ... Virenque is taken into custody in Paris

Richard Virenque who was summoned to appear before the Paris drug squad on Tuesday morning has been placed in police custody (11.00 Tuesday Paris time) for being suspected of involvment in the traffic of doping products. He is being made to give blood, urine and other samples to see whether any possible traces of banned substances can be detected. A bit late!

Manager of La Française des Jeux, Marc Madiot and the soigneur Stéphane Corlay are also being heard in Paris this morning by the drug squad. Others who will be heard throughout Tuesday are Casino rider Laurent Roux, and Marc Madiot's assistant, Alain Gallopin.

And the GP Midi Libere will go on

Despite all the drug scandals which are ruining the image of cycling in France the organiser of the GP Midi Libere, Roger Bène has firmly contradicted the rumours that are now circulating in Paris that the race will be cancelled. He told the press this morning: "Despite all the stories, the start will be on May 19 in Gard as planned. And we will finish in Sète as planned also. It is true also that there will be significant changes as a result of the doping scandals especially with respect to the teams. TVM has just declared they will not be coming. Banesto, ONCE and Rabobank, who usually participate will not be in action this year. The teams that are doubtful about their practices are too afraid to come to France. In fact, the teams which I call 'not proper' have decided to make keep out of France. The teams which have agreed to race in France are those which have understood the need to clean up the sport.

17 teams in all will start this 6 stage race. Among them will be Euskatel-Euskadi, Saeco-Cannondale, Casino, Cofidis, Big Mat-Auber 93, and La Française des Jeux.

Brett Aitken at the crossroads

A persistant knee injury is causing problems for Brett Aitken. A self imposed deadline for a persistant knee problem to mend is looming near and he is preparing himself to lose the contract with his Belgian team Palmans-Ideal. Aitken is limited to riding only one hour a day and doesn't think he will be fit enough to meet his racing commitments. Aitken is hopeful that Australian coaches can provide a suitable path to recovery.

Netherlands, Zuiderveld Toer, 200 kms, May 9

Martin Hardie reports that Harm Hensen and Pelle Kil have returned to the Netherlands after racing recently in the US. Harm and Pelle didn't seem to have a problem adapting to the crazy races on the Dutch plains, the fastest in the world of cycling. Flat Holland is known for its cross winds, echelons and high average speed road races. Harm and Pelle showed form in their first test

Nearly 50 kms in the first hour! This 31 year old classic always has had a fast start when strong winds are present. Harm and Pelle were both driving a 20 break that defended a 20 second lead for 108 kms!! Racing for a big part through Germany the peloton united on the rolling hills. When crossing the border again Harm attacked with Bos, a member from the Giant team. With 64 kms left this duo had a 2 minute lead on the remaining 30 riders in the race. Another Giant rider joined and both riders were ordered not to cooperate! With the two riders sitting on Harm kept driving till powerhouse Pelle managed to bridge with 4 riders trailing. The two Dutchmen displayed enough strength to make the their opponents hesitate in making the break work and a chase group managed to catch back on. But being back home for three days only our boys were paying for the traveling and time differences. Both Harm and Pelle were suffering from severe cramps in the last hour of the race. Harm still created the final break of five, but he also finished fifth. Pelle rolled into 20th.


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