Grischa Niermann has become the latest former Rabobank rider to confess to doping. The German, who retired from racing at the end of 2012, has been handed a six-month suspension by the Dutch Cycling Federation.
Niermann joined Rabobank in 1999 and spent 14 seasons with the squad. He has admitted to using EPO between 2000 and 2003, and said that he will furnish the relevant authorities with further details.
"Thanks to the people around me I realised in 2003 that banned substances was not the path I wanted to follow,” Niermann said, according to the Dutch federation website. “That’s why I stopped and for the past 10 years, I tried to set an example for the young riders at Rabobank as being honest, hardworking and professional.”
The 37-year-old Niermann accepted a coaching role with the Rabobank Continental squad following his retirement after last year’s Vuelta a España. The Dutch bank withdrew its sponsorship of the professional team – now operating as Blanco – but continues to support the Continental and women’s squads.
“To rekindle that dark period is very painful for me, but it also reinforces the decision I made in 2003 to draw a line under it,” Niermann said. “I will share all further relevant information with the anti-doping authorities.”
Rabobank’s withdrawal from sponsorship came in response to former manager Theo de Rooy’s admission in May that doping had been tolerated on the squad up until 2007.
In recent weeks, Danny Nelissen, Marc Lotz and Thomas Dekker have admitted to doping during their time at Rabobank, while Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad reported that the team had first instigated a formal doping programme ahead of the 1996 Tour de France.
Last week, it was reported that former Rabobank and Sky team doctor Gert Leinders was questioned for three hours by the Belgian Cycling Federation over allegations that he had doped riders during his time at Rabobank.