Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Former team GM denies he knew about EPO use, plans lawsuit
GHENT, Belgium -- Former Telekom general
manager Walter Godefroot has denied allegations that he knew
about the use of performance-enhancing drugs among the team's
riders a decade ago.
Godefroot's denial on Tuesday came two weeks after former
Telekom team leader Bjarne Riis became the first rider to admit
to having used performance-enhancing drugs while winning the
Tour de France.
The Dane, who won the race in 1996, alleged that Godefroot
turned a blind eye to drug use within the team.
"I did not organize any doping in our cycling team, nor
finance it," Godefroot told a news conference.
The Belgian said he also intended to sue former team massage therapist Jef
d'Hont, who alleged in a recent book that the team, now known
as T-Mobile, had encouraged riders to use the banned blood
"I won't put Jef d'Hont on trial here ... I have decided to
take legal action against him in the coming weeks," Godefroot said.
In his book, published last month, d'Hont said systematic
doping took place within the team between 1992 and 1996.
Since its publication, Germans Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag,
who rode for Telekom when team leaders Riis and German Jan
Ullrich won the Tour de France in 1996 and 1997 respectively,
admitted to using EPO in the mid-1990s.
Three other German Telekom riders and two team doctors also
admitted to doping at the team. Ullrich, who retired from
racing in April, previously denied using illegal substances.
In the book, d'Hont said both Riis and Ullrich
used EPO. He said the Telekom medical
team encouraged Ullrich to use EPO in 1996.
"Jef d'Hont knows perfectly well that in those days, I
never would have allowed any medication to be taken without
knowing its effects and side effects," Godefroot added.