Three-time Milan-San Remo winner Oscar Freire has said in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El País that he saw “nothing strange” during his nine years in Rabobank.
Recently a number of riders have claimed they doped whilst on the Dutch team, amongst them Michael Rasmussen, Michael Boogerd, Marc Lotz, Thomas Dekker and Danny Nelissen. But Freire, who retired last December after a career in which he was never involved or implicated in any kind of doping affair, says he believes the team was “always against doping.”
“The doctors never offered me [banned substances] in the teams I’ve been in,” he said, with those teams being Mapei, Rabobank and Katusha. “Other riders had their own doctor, but I was just with the team doctors, and not with one in particular.”
Asked directly if he ever took banned drugs, the former triple World Champion told El País, “no, no, no....that’s a stupid question.”
“I can answer yes or no and people can think what they want about what I say, they can believe me or not. I’ve always given it everything and I’ve had some disappointments in cycling and with some cyclists, but also some great moments of happiness. And I didn’t dope.”
Reviewing cycling’s problems with banned drugs in general, whilst stating that the riders who doped “were the most to blame,” Freire said that “The problem was that the methods of detection were not sufficiently efficient. We would have to blame the riders, who were the most guilty, but also those who carried out the tests, who acted the fool.”
Looking at today’s edition of Milan-San Remo, Freire said that “Sagan is the top favourite. He would have won last year if it hadn’t been for [Vincenzo] Nibali, who was in his team. People have talked to me a lot about Moreno Moser.”
Now retired and still living with his family in his adopted country of Switzerland, Freire himself said he missed racing a little when watching Tirreno, but only a little.
“Almost immediately [after feeling a little nostalgic] you feel less keen because everything reminds me how hard it is to be in good shape. On televisionit all looks so easy but I know how much you have to suffer to go well in San Remo. And even if the weather’s nice and it all looks so nice on the television, the riders know how hard it is to be taking part in San Remo in good shape and how much it hurts their legs.”