By Susan Westemeyer
German anti-doping crusader Doctor Werner Franke continued to insist that at least five T-Mobile riders left Strasbourg, France – site of the Grand Départ of the Tour de France – on the evening of Saturday, July 1, 2006 and drove to Freiburg, Germany, for blood transfusions. However, the head of a committee investigating the University doesn't know anything about it, according to the German news magazine Welt.
"We can't do without him [Franke - ed.], but sometimes he makes a shot in the dark," said Hans Joachim Schäfer, who is leading a commission evaluating the role of the Freiburg University Clinic in doping at Team Telekom/T-Mobile. "The Commission is not investigating five dopers." He further claimed that Franke was making disclosures to the public instead of to his commission.
Franke saw it otherwise. "The theme 'Rhine convoy' was mentioned before the Commission last Thursday. I even heard Mr. Schäfer himself use the phrase. Everybody knows that Sinkewitz wasn't the only one."
According to the Stuttgarter Zeitung, it was a "masterful logistical performance" at the Clinic that Saturday night – getting all five riders hooked up, making sure each got the right blood, and afterwards removing all evidence that they had been there. Freiburg's chief public prosecutor, Wolfgang Maier told the newspaper that "We are checking whether further persons knew about what happened or actively helped."
"Welt" added that the blood bags were stored in the Clinic's basement, with code names. But the German doctors didn't use dog names or such cryptic nicknames like Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes – they apparently took a more light-hearted approach and labelled the bags with stickers of Disney cartoon characters. Which leads to the question: Who was Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and so on.