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Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Dietz says Telekom team doctors offered EPO

Associated Press

FRANKFURT, Germany -- A former teammate of Jan Ullrich admitted using banned performance-enhancing drugs with the assistance of two team doctors.

Bert Dietz, who rode for the Telekom team between 1994 and 1998, said he was introduced to the use of the blood-boosting substance EPO by the two doctors, Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich. The two doctors, who have denied being involved in doping, recently were suspended by the team.

Dietz spoke Monday in an interview on national television, becoming the first rider on the team now known as T-Mobile to acknowledge doping. He did not implicate other riders from the team, but said they must have been aware of what was going on.

Dietz said the two doctors introduced EPO in 1995, explaining the way it functions and the risks connected to taking it.

"If we wanted to ride at the top, we would likely have to take it," Dietz said. "They offered it, but in such a form that everyone knew: If I don't take it now, I'll probably have such bad results at the end of the season that my contract would not be extended. It was clear."

Dietz's admission follows revelations by former Telekom massage therapist Jed d'Hont earlier this month. D'Hont said Schmid and Heinrich supplied EPO to former Tour de France winners Ullrich and Bjarne Riis and other riders.

D'Hont worked for the team from 1992-96. Riis won the 1996 Tour and Ullrich finished second. Ullrich won the 1997 Tour. Ullrich, who retired in February after being implicated in the Spanish doping scandal, has denied ever taking performance-enhancing drugs. Riis also has denied doping.