Dutchman lifts the lid on a dark decade
In an interview set to air on Wednesday night in Holland, former Rabobank stalwart Michael Boogerd will admit to doping for a decade of his 14-year-career.
Set to air on NOS Sport, Boogerd, who has been under pressure to explain his use of performance-enhancing drugs in recent times, explained that he was aided by EPO, blood transfusions and cortisone between 1997 and 2007, the year that he retired.
Boogerd, regularly and easily spotted at the front of the peloton, laid claim to victory on two stages of the Tour de France, the 1999 Amstel Gold race, the 1999 Paris-Nice and was Dutch Road Champion in 1997, 1998 and 2006. Remarkably at the Classics, he fell agonisingly short, twice runner-up in Lombardia, twice in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and four times in the Amstel Gold race.
Boogerd, now 40, said that he didn't use doping products while he was racing the Tour de France, instead - "It was in periods, usually periods of training in preparation for competitions. I have always ridden the Tour clean."
As for his victory on Stage 16 of the 2002 Tour de France, where tenaciously he stayed clear of Carlos Sastre and Lance Armstrong, Boogerd admitted that some of the gloss would not be diminished.
"I realise that victory in the eyes of the public may now be infected."
When he began using EPO in 1997, he soon realised that it was "too risky" and moved on to blood transfusions.
"At some point it [EPO] was going to be easier to detect, so I went looking for something else," Boogerd explained.
Boogerd has previously been named as being among the athletes associated with the HumanPlasma blood doping programme, as well as the general Rabobank team doping which has been uncovered. In a recent interview, while he admitted to meeting with HumanPlasma enabler, former agent Stefan Matschiner, Boogerd said it was only "for vitamins". Shedding light on his involvement however, the Dutchman confirmed that he had been dealing with Matschiner but would not mention who else had assisted him to dope, while denying that he had ever been in contact with Francesco Conconi, Michele Ferrari and Eufemiano Fuentes.
"I mention no names," Boogerd said. "I looked into it and then I searched myself. It was my responsibility, my choice."
Boogerd is the eighth former Rabobank staffer to confess to doping, following in the footsteps of Danny Nelissen, Marc Lotz, Thomas Dekker, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Grischa Niermann, and former manager Theo de Rooij.
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