Second Edition News for November 29, 1997

The Dutch Doping Scandal - Part 3

As the revelations and the implications spread, various defences are now being made in the Netherlands and elsewhere. Here is the update from Friday in the Netherlands, after the story broke on the Thursday.

Ex-PDM team leader Jan Gisbers said he knew nothing of what Doctor Wim Sanders was administering to his riders, in the year and a half that he worked for PDM. "I really knew nothing much about the blood doping. That was being done via the Academic Hospital in Maastricht. I did speak with Sanders. But I did not wish it to continue during the Tour. We had a medical rule and that each rider must see a doctor. They must also keep a diary. As to what the doctor did, I was not in the know. How could I control that? I can search for substances, but I would have found nothing. The riders are not naive. They are more crafty than you think. You must be able to search the riders, the soigneurs and the doctor."

Gisbers laughed about the comments yesterday by former PDM boss Manfred Krikke which said that the PDM decided to be unethical and experiment with banned performance enhancing substances. Krikke: "It was being done by everyone. Name one team that did not do it. We were always completely open."

According to Gisbers, Sanders did administer intralipid via injection to the PDM riders. "But intralipid is not doping but is a nutritional aid, an extract of the soya bean. It was something that almost every team was taking. We had the bad luck (during the Tour) that the stuff caused us problems. And then we didn't handle the affair very well."

The pressure to succeed was enormous. Not only from the press, but also for the riders who were under contract to the team of Gisbers. And all the success that PDM had during this period was a major talking point in the cycling world. There must have been substance abuse was the common thinking.

Gisbers replied: "We had all the classy riders in our team and just because we won a lot of prizes people think we had taken something. But that is not self-evident. A young rider like Erik Breukink - was he taking something? Come now. And Kelly or Alcala. Each year in the peloton there are 7000 tests and we had around a 1000 of them. The scrutiny was always very great."

"I concede that there were individual cases that were detected. Wim Arras was trapped during the Tour of Sweden. In the 3 Days of the Panne, Gert Jakobs was caught and tested positive. But that was one unfortunate case. Jakobs was sick about 50 kms from the end. On my advice he was attended to by a doctor from another team. In the hotel later, Jakobs was advised that he had to attend the drug control for a test. He had finished 2.5 hours. Then he was trapped with the substance that the other doctor had given him."

One clear failure was Gert-Jan Theunisse. But it was always claimed that he was a victim of abnormally high and naturally occurring levels of testosterone. Gisbers: "Should we really have conducted searches. No-one wished that. Theunisse said that he had not done anything and his daily diary (which all PDM riders had to keep and showed what medication they were being administered) showed nothing. We had to believe him. Theunisse continued with Post, and was caught two more times."

The KNWU Reacts

The Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU) has no control over the involvement of sports doctor Wim Sander who has been exposed for his central role in the drug network. Sanders is not a member.

But many sports people who Sanders has been giving drugs to are cyclists. The President of the KNWU J. Atsma is angry and says that the dope taking must be dammed. Last year, the KNWU tried with other sports bodies to come to some agreement about drugs policy but that did not work.

Atsma said that it was money that was the biggest handicap for them in their quest for an effective drugs control. The KNWU each year spends 70000 guilders on drug test for riders, two thousand per professional riders. For other categories the money is limited. "We would like to conduct more controls that we are currently, but each drug test costs between 6 and 7 thousand guilders. Our difficulty is that they are so expensive."

The Doctor and Vice President of the Medical Commission of the UCI, L. Schattenberg said in reaction to the breaking scandal, that the UCI must follow it up. "We cannot escape the fact that riders will test positive. Our main point is that drugs in cycling must be occurring. The riders are under great pressure to perform. But we have to try."