The cycling world has started to react to the news of the positive EPO doping controls from the 1998 and 1999 Tours de France, especially as the names of the riders began to leak out. Cyclingnews has gathered a variety of comments on the affair.
Christophe Bassons rode the 1998 and 1999 Tours de France, and was outspokenly anti-doping. So outspoken, in fact, that a virtual “shunning”, led by Lance Armstrong, whom he had publicly criticized, caused him to abandon the 1999 Tour midway through. “This list does not surprise me at all,” he told RTL. “The new generation will not do the same crap, but it requires that those people who have lived a lie for so long not be at the heads of teams or are TV consultants, coaches or others ... (...) I think it is necessary to clean it."
He added, “For me, some riders were doped in the Tour in 2013. I am convinced of that.”
Jan Ullrich has confessed to being a client of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes for blood doping, but has never admitted to any other doping. He was found to have tested positive twice for EPO during the 1998 Tour. “He has no comment at this time,” his manager Falk Nier told Cyclingnews.
Jens Heppner, named as having tested positive at the 1998 Tour, is currently a sports director at Team NetApp-Endura. He did not have a comment, but his team did. “The subsequent tests on samples from 1998 have nothing to do with the successful work that Jens Heppner has provided our team since 2010,” said team manager Ralph Denk. “I know that the results have nothing in common with the way in which we have been successfully promoting a new generation of cyclists for four years now. Our team stands for absolutely clean cycling. Therefore, we are looking to the future.”
Abraham Olano said that he was “surprised by being on a list of names when I have not tested positive. I don't understand how it can go now. They have to prove it.”
"I was always under the control and custody of the team and its medical service. I absolutely do not consider myself guilty. I never had the feeling that I was doing anything illegal," said Olano, who is currently technical director of the Vuelta a Espana.
Bo Hamburger was not surprised to be on the list. “I was already in custody for 36 hours in Lyon after the 1998 Tour because of an investigation. So it may not exactly surprise me. Indeed, it has also previously been said that I am one of the names that allegedly tested positive in 1999.”
Hamburger had previously admitted to doping, but that he had stopped doing so in 1997. He was coy when bt.dk asked him if he doped in 1998, refusing to answer the question. “My answer is that I do not feel you as a journalist can use my answer constructively. Anti Doping Denmark can and they are the ones I have chosen to respond to.”
Several top German riders were named, and Rudolf Scharping, head of the German cycling federation, said “The latest announcements from Paris are further proof for the 'contaminated' decade and by what we now know, not particularly surprising. For the present and the future of cycling they have no meaning, as we have most recently seen by the results and behavior of the German cyclists during the Tour de France.”
Luuc Eisenga, Managing director of the AIGCP, said This report correlates with what most of the people that came clean already claimed. Unfortunately, there have been some very bad choices in a very bad period of the sport. With joined forces between all stakeholders in the sport, cycling has done a lot to change its culture. The united teams nowadays create a safe and healthy environment where clean riders can perform and win. The report calls for a more intense collaboration between different stakeholders, which is an attitude that the teams fully support.”
Brian Cookson is running for the presidency of the International Cycling Union (UCI). “Today's news shows just how out of control professional road cycling was allowed to get in the late 1990s. The fact that it appears so many riders tested positive in the 1998 and 1999 Tour de France for EPO is a terrible indictment of the people responsible, and those with the most responsibility for the culture within the sport are the UCI.
"What I believe is absolutely essential on our road back to credibility is that we get to the bottom of how this happened. Most importantly we need to know whether the UCI was complicit, colluded with riders or was itself corrupt.”
He concluded, “While today might be difficult for the individuals involved and for their friends and families, anything which shines a light on the dopers and those who enabled widespread doping is to be welcomed.
"And we owe it to those who chose to ride dope-free and to the fans to understand the mistakes of the past and make sure they are not repeated."