Former Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer has claimed that Levi Leipheimer's blood values during the 2005 Tour de France “showed a very high probability of manipulation,” the German press agency SID has reported.
Holczer made the accusation during the presentation of his book called “Garantiert Positiv” (“Guaranteed Positive”) in Germany on Wednesday.
He claimed that the UCI informed him on the first rest day of the 2005 Tour de France in Grenoble that Leipheimer's blood values had an off-score co-efficient of 132.8. That is just 0.2 under the limit of 133. A normal score is 85-95 and scores over 133 can be considered evidence of doping.
“It was clear to me: Leipheimer had manipulated,” Holczer told SID and other media during the book presentation.
With Leipheimer’s values just under the limit, Holczer said the UCI advised him to try and find another reason to remove Leipheimer from the race, something he felt unable to do. “I was caught between a moral obligation and a legal threat,” Holczer said.
He knew that if there had been a scandal about Leipheimer’s blood values during the Tour de France it would have been the end of the team. The Gerolsteiner sponsorship agreement specified that if there were two doping cases in the team, the contract would end immediately. The team had already had its first case earlier that same year when Danilo Hondo tested positive. “Ever since then we’d been sat on an economic powder keg. I would have gone totally bankrupt,” Holczer said.
Leipheimer went on to finish sixth overall in the 2005 Tour de France, 11:21 behind winner Lance Armstrong. a few weeks later he won the Deutschland Tour, beating Jan Ullrich. Leipheimer finished 13th in this year’s Tour de France, while riding with Lance Armstrong in the RadioShack team.
Gerolsteiner announced in September 2007 that it would end its sponsorship of the team at the end of the 2008 season. At the 2008 Tour de France, Bernhard Kohl and Stefan Schumacher tested positive for the new blood-boosting drug CERA. Schumacher and Davide Rebellin also tested positive for CERA at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing a few weeks later. The team was broken up and the infrastructure sold off at the end of the 2008 season.