Thomas Dekker will fight to clear his name after testing positive for blood booster EPO in a re-test of a December 2007 doping control. "This should not be the end of my cycling career," he said.
"This is a very strange story," Dekker told the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. When he returned after a final training ride before traveling to the Tour, he received a phone call from Anne Gripper, the UCI's anti-doping manager. "She told me that I had tested positive for EPO in December 2007. I listened to the whole story. Then I just about hit the ground."
The 24-year-old said that he finds it "all very strange. I do not know exactly what is going on." Dekker also questioned the timing of the matter. "This story pops up on the very day that I leave for the Tour.
"How can a sample be negative in 2007 and now suddenly gets tested again? That is wrong."
In a press statement, Dekker attacked the charges on procedural grounds. He said that he had personal contact with UCI doctor Mario Zorzoli concerning his blood values, due to rumours of problems. Dr. Zorzoli gave Dekker a letter in which he said, "This is to confirm that all test results of 2008 that are known to the UCI show that the blood values of Thomas Dekker...did not exceed any limits which would have required the imposition of a declaration of incapability under UCI's current regulations." According to Dekker, this proves that there were no problems with his blood values.
He further challenged the re-testing of the urine sample taken in December 2007, saying "It is now apparent to all that new standards are being applied to older, previously tested samples found to be negative."
Team Silence-Lotto, which has placed Dekker on non-active status, is not the only team involved in the matter. Dekker was with Rabobank when the test was conducted. The Dutch team let him go last August under unexplained circumstances, which included rumours that there were questions about his blood values.
"We are very disappointed," Rabobank spokesman Luuc Eisenga told NOS Radio 1. Even though Dekker is no longer with the team, "the test had been made while he was still in our service. I cannot yet assess the impact."