At an extremely short press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Belgian cyclo-crosser Ben Berden (John Saey-Deschacht) admitted that he had taken EPO last December, owing to the fact that he felt "tired". Berden, who has been one of Belgium's best cyclo-crossers in recent years, confirmed what his sponsors had previously said. "At that moment [mid-December, 2004], I had a hematocrit of 38. With a tough period coming up, I did not want to disappoint the sponsors and fans. I regret my actions and will not be asking for a counter-analysis."
Berden, 29, didn't say whether or not he would retire, but his admission means the end of the John Saey-Deschacht team.
Teammate Camiel van den Bergh described himself as shocked by Berden's admission. "This is really very shocking," he was quoted by ANP as saying. "I knew that he was depressed because we wasn't going well enough. Apparently he was looking for a way out, but I did not expect this. He also never spoke about it with me."
Van den Bergh realised that Berden's admission would cast a shadow on the rest of the team. "I can only say that it is not the case. They can do all the tests on me that they like and have done over the years. There has never been anything."