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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 booster EPO.

"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.