News for December 1, 1997

Dutch Drugs Scandal - Part 6

PDM: Pills, Drugs and Medicine

In 1991, the cycling world became aware of the intralipid affair during the Tour de France. The Dutch PDM team, strong favourites, had to return home sick. The Geleen-based general practitioner was blamed. Here is a reconstruction.

PDM manager Manfred Krikke prepared a military style operation for the 1991 Tour de France. The yearly sporting and publicity event in the Alps and the Pyrenees was an opportunity that could not be lost. The previous year, public favourite Erik Breukink arrived in Paris in third place. He was a potential Tour winner. His best years were to come. The whole team was approaching top form. Now must be their chance.

Hotels were personally inspected for their peace and quiet, with cooks checking out the eating conditions, riders were personally selected and prepared, the medical routines were sharpened, and a complete contact book for media was designed. Ex-commando Krikke did not want anything to go amiss in what he thought would be the teams' biggest yaer. And everything was set in place.

Well, nearly everything. Krikke, the perfectionist from the province of Brabant in the Netherlands, added the sloddervos ("slattern", "sloven" - bad type), Wim Sanders to his team, as the team doctor. The man, who we have found this week during the publication of the scandal, was "not the most punctual" and was recommended by the team leader Jan Gisbers and the famous Dr. Sala from the Sint Joseph Hospital in Veldhoven (near Eindhoven, NL)

Krikke did not have a good feeling when he first met with the Geleen doctor, but gave him the benefit of the doubt "because he was a sports medicine doctor, and we had to have a sports doctor, even though he demanded a lot of money." Sanders found a lucrative niche with PDM until the end of 1991. "Secret money" was was how the FIOD (official tax investigation body) decribed the deals in their huge dossier on the shabby and fraudulent doctor.

Krikke positively denies that he made payment for the secret medicine of the PDM team. But first how did it all come about. Manfred Krikke suspected something was rotten one time during a small search during a stage race for which PDM was participating. Slapbang in the hotel room of the doctor Sanders it was chaos. Medicine and syringes were lying everywhere. The spectacle would have led an outsider to immediately think that there was doping going on.

Since the PDM team started in 1986 there had been a scent of drug taking hanging over it. Drug affairs and success continued hand in hand. Sanders predecessor Peter Jansen had experimented with forbidden substances. In the cycling world there were lots of accusations that PDM riders were being drugged by Jansen, but there was never any proof.

The three letters of PDM - Philips Dupont Magnetics was translated in Dutch as Prestaties Door Manipulaties (Performances through manipulation) The English version was Pills, Drugs and Medicine, and the French name of the team was "Plein de Manipulations de Dopage".

Gisbers had always declared that the team was free from dispute. Coming into the 1991 Tour de France, PDM had another painful affair to deal with. In the Driedaagse van De Panne (3 Days of the Panne) Gert Jakobs tested positive. He claimed during the stage "to be suffering from a small dose of influenza", but this has been later interpreted that he knew he would be tested at the end of the stage and was seeking to evade it. The team gave him a 'homeopathic' product with a banned fortifying substance. This helped the rider make a quicker recovery from effort. Sanders, not present at De Panne, took the blame. Krikke was furious.

A week before the departure for the Tour, during the Dutch Championships, Wim Sanders and Jan Gisbers planned with the Limburg Recovery Physiologist Eugène Janssen to administer intralipid. That was a perfect solution for feeding people with fueling problems during the race.

During the championships, PDM top man Erik Breukink was having, what for him was a bad day. It was put down to a lack of fuel ('brandstofproblemen'). The rider did not have enough to food inside and felt flat. Intralipid can be carried in the bidon. Sanders said the he knew the product, although Janssen continued to say that he hoped that he knew how to handle it. Sanders, though, was always the doctor.

Krikke is horrified by the memories of July 15 1991, when his sporting team was the centre of a moral failing in the middle of one of the world's largest media spectacles. He defends himself for not having dealt with Gisbers-Sanders by saying it was easy to get carried away with the success of the team.

In 1991, PDM was clearly the best team in the world. It was the Ajax of cycling. The best riders, the best management, the most money, publicity and all the form. There appeared to be nothing wrong. Gisbers was the man and his reputation was outstanding. Krikke said that with a successful team there were many other rewards. Also women. It is normal. I had a good marriage. But am I to stand against the enticements that comes to the winners?

But Gisbers was not going to turn down the luxury. In the evenings after the race, when all the riders had retired to their hotel rooms, the fun in the team leaders wagen started. The parties continued in the company of his mate Sanders. The women also used to hang around the start and finish place with Gisbers and Sanders.

Krikke's assistant Poels said that the team leader and doctor would disappear with women, but meanwhile the riders of the team must finish and get ready for the new stage in the morning.

We later heard that Sanders and Gisbers were with women in another hotel. The team doctor was the "post boy of love". The discipline of the team was compromised by these escapades. The absolute devotion was gone. The recklessness grew with the intralipid affair the obvious consequence.

The image of the PDM riders shivering miserably after they had stopped riding and having to get support to get back to their hotel rooms, was shown the whole world over. The complete team of favourites, with 3 men leading the GC, had to retire home with influenza, feverish and in obvious pain. Everywhere there was bewilderment.

Naturally it was hard to expose the doping. A game of lies and deceit followed. The PDM management came with another explanation. Salmonella, influenza, a virus, upset stomach, an infection. In panic Gisbers also said that he himself felt sick himself.

The story had a little credibility so the team was reassured that they would not be caught, but it crumbled an hour later. Everyone guessed the business: here was some problem with drugs. Again PDM. Again Gisbers.

President of the UCI, Hein Verbruggen, said when he was told of the intrapilid catastrophe, "the greatest poisoner of West Europe". The French doctor, Jean-Daniel Fleysakier said the riders would have been very ill with "high fever, a feeling like influenza, muscle pain and neck cramp, typical of of an overdose of EPO."

Krikke tried to close the gap of negative publicity for his sponsor in the meanwhile, believeing that he could avoid a more extensive enquiry, but came to two press conferences without one plausible medical explanation. Tour Boss LeBlanc was furious, and immediately placed a ban on PDM for the 1992 Tour. "I do not have one hundred percent confidence that PDM in this affair have behaved properly, but have acted with deceit and trickery. Team leader Gisbers is a small time crook and liar." said Leblanc.

The fraud trail to Wim Sanders that this week has been openly publicised, has brought light on the PDM doctor's activities in the 1990 Tour de France EPO scandal. The use of forbidden substances by sports people and the injudicious use of very dangerous substance was shortly to be discovered. Whereas experts and sportspeople using the drugs were moving on to EPO (sold under the brand names of Eprex and Recormon) and Sanders was arranging his supply outside the Netherlands.

Since 1990, the Geleen chemist Huub Jacobs has supplied him with a lot of EPO. Also a German chemist has joined in the scam. Sanders used the supplies of Eprex from the Geleen chemist to continue his doping of PDM. The search also unveiled that Sanders used medicine from the Sint Truiden (Belgium) chemist Willy Jeandarme. In Belgium, Jeandarme had been suspected - but not proved - to be involved in horse race doping. The local police had searched his house as early as 1980. They also searched his house in 1989 as part of an investigation in the XTC network of the Belgian Limburg doctor Danny Leclere,

This week, the PDM manager of the day Manfred Krikke spoke, after he was confronted with the revelations, though reluctantly: "When we started PDM we decided that we would not be the most ethical team in the peloton. The one rule imposed from the PDM directors was that there was to be "no drug affairs" rather than "no drug taking. Within this direction, we experimented with products that were just within or over the edge of legality. Just like in other sports. We were not doing anything that the other teams were doing."

Against this background is Krikke's bitter denounciation of Sanders. PDM, did not want to break the rules and use dangerous and forbidden substances. That was Sanders fault.