German anti-doping crusader Dr. Werner Franke has now claimed that the T-Mobile 2006 Tour de France team all went to the Freiburg University Clinic for blood-doping. "According to my information, the whole T-Mobile Team lay there and was pumped full with their own red blood cells," he said in a radio interview with www.hr-online.de.
Dr. Franke did not offer any details or proof to support his claims, or reveal his source. It is the latest in a series of speculative and damaging assertions made as part of the German media's ongoing investigations into professional road cycling. The country's mass media has been aggressive in its reporting of many claims made by current and former German cyclists. It's believed that these reports in the German media contributed significantly to the decision by T-Mobile to withdraw its support of the country's national professional cycling team.
Former T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz has claimed that he drove to the clinic on the evening after the first stage of the '06 Tour for a blood transfusion. Earlier this month the Süddeutsche Zeitung said that it had information that at least five riders from the Tour squad were involved.
The only two riders from that 2006 team who will be on ProTour squads in 2008 are Michael Rogers (Team High Road) and Andreas Klöden (Team Astana). Klöden spoke with Johan Bruyneel at the beginning of December and assured him that he wasn't involved in the affair. "We believe his statements," said new Astana spokesman, Philippe Maertens.
Team High Road (formerly Team T-Mobile in 2007) had no comment on Franke's accusations. (It should be pointed out that the 2006 men's T-Mobile team was not under High Road Sports management during the 2006 road season, including the Tour de France.)
In late October, in response to accusations by Sinkewitz, the then team spokesman Stefan Wagner had told the dpa agency, "We spoke with Rogers, and he told us he was not involved in doping practices in T-Mobile Team in 2006. He is part of our strict anti-doping programme. And he follows this one hundred percent." The UCI later cleared Rogers of doping implications in conjunction with Sinkewitz in November.