Philippe Gilbert has denied allegations published in Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad that he used cortisone to enhance his performance during his time at the Lotto team. Currently at BMC, Gilbert raced for Lotto from 2009 to 2011 and won six classics in his three seasons at the Belgian squad.
The NRC Handelsblad report cites an anonymous former Lotto teammate who stated that Gilbert received cortisone on prescription from Lotto doctor Jan Mathieu with the aim of boosting his performance. The use of cortisone is forbidden unless the rider holds a therapeutic use exemption stating that he is taking it to treat an injury.
“Gilbert often raced on cortisone and I know that from Jan Mathieu himself. I received cortisone from Mathieu, supposedly on prescription and he told me that he did the same thing with Gilbert,” the source told NRC Handelsblad.
Gilbert opted to respond to the NRC allegations in writing. “I’ve always done my job in a serious manner and in the best way possible,” he said. “I won big races both before and after my years at Lotto, and for the most part in the same fashion. I hope that says enough about it.”
It was also reported that Jan Mathieu, who is still the doctor at Lotto-Belisol, admitted that he had used cortisone to treat injuries at Lotto but insisted that he was not complicit in concocting injuries for the purposes of producing falsified TUEs for riders. “It might be that a rider came to me claiming to be really injured,” Mathieu said.
The abuse of cortisone and its use as a performance-enhancing substance is one of the chief concerns of the Movement for Credible Cycling’s (MPCC), which requires that its member teams do not field riders while they hold therapeutic use exemptions for cortisone. MPCC teams undergo four random tests per season for elevated levels of cortisol. Lotto Belisol joined the MPCC during the winter, while Gilbert’s current BMC squad is one of the eight WorldTour teams who are not part of the movement.