By Brecht Decaluwé
Quick Step-Innergetic's public relations officer Johan Museeuw has confessed to not being "100 per cent honest" during the final year of his cycling career, in what is generally being interpreted as an admission to doping. Although not being specific about his methods, Museeuw announced his resignation from the team effective immediately at a press conference called in Kortrijk. The revelation follows on from the controversy caused by a series of articles run in the Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws yesterday which allege that Quick Step-Innergetic's Patrick Lefevere has had '30 years in doping'.
"I wanted to end my career in style, that's why I did things which were wrong," the 1996 world champion said during the press conference. "During the preparation of some important races I didn't always play the game 100 per cent honest."
According to Museeuw's lawyer, Jozef Lievens, there was an occasional training partner of the former world champion, Wouter Vandenhaute, who sent an email to Jean-Marie Dedecker - a notorious anti-doping crusader - which was leaked to Het Laatste Nieuws. "Not all the stories which are circulating are correct," noted Museeuw. "But what Wouter Vandenhaute wrote in a mail, is correct in big lines."
In 2004 Museeuw almost won Paris-Roubaix until a flat tyre shattered his hopes for a fourth victory at the event.
Besides the world championship title in Lugano the Lion of Flanders has won eleven classics in the former World Cup and was enormously popular in Flanders, hence the nickname. His popularity dropped when he was found guilty for his involvement in the Landuyt affair by the Belgian Cycling Federation and banned from the sport for two years based on SMS traffic between Museeuw and his doctor.
In 2005 the judicial authorities sent Museeuw to court for the possession of drugs, but there is still no verdict in this case.
The Belgian also commented on the Lefevere accusations, a story he calls, "a new sad highlight," in a dragging witch hunt. "But I realise that I added to all of this. I did things that weren't appropriate. I'll keep fighting for a clean sport but I can't put right what has been done," Museeuw said.
The former champion ended with an appeal: he hopes the media will stop smearing the sport of cycling.
"I have taken enough insults in the past," Museeuw concluded, requesting that the media now leave he and his family alone.