Astana's Andreas Klöden says he's thinking of leaving professional cycling, following a difficult few months for his Switzerland-registered ProTour squad. Astana's troubles began with the non-negative sample of the German's now former teammate Matthias Kessler, followed more recently by lead rider Alexander Vinokourov's non-negative at the Tour de France, which saw the whole squad asked to leave the event.
"Maybe I'll just quit entirely," he told German tabloid BILD. "I'm afraid that the sport is being criminalised, we could end up in prison. What happens if someone pours something illegal onto my salad? Suddenly I test positive and go to jail. I don't want that, I have a family. The whole thing doesn't make sense any more."
Klöden, a popular rider in his home country, said the recent events have played heavily on his mind. "I can hardly sleep," he said. "I couldn't explain to my daughter Felicitas why I am already at home, although the Tour is still going on. I told here that I had crashed and that's why I couldn't ride any more."
The 32 year-old has had trouble understanding the non-negative doping tests for his teammates Alexander Vinokourov and Matthias Kessler. Klöden added that he's been tested personally 14 times this season, including six unannounced tests. "They seem funny to me," he started. "Vinokourov is supposed to have doped with someone else's blood. He knew that he would be controlled. That's like when someone sees a radar control in an 80 kmh zone and races through at 150 kmh. The same goes for Matthias Kessler. He had a testosterone value that had never before been measured so high. And that between two races which he was racing to win and had to reckon with controls. Nobody is that dumb."
Klöden's "adventurous" theory for the whole thing was a power fight between the UCI and the ASO for control of the Tour de France. "Intrigues are being woven, everyone wishes each other the worst," he said. "It has to do with a lot of money. What if someone is manipulating things in order to destroy it all and then take over the remains?" SW