Rudi Kemna, directeur sportif at Argos-Shimano, has said that he used EPO in 2003 whilst riding for Bankgiroloterij. His current team said that it supported his decision to make the confession, but that he will be suspended as required under an agreement with the Dutch cycling federation. Former Bankgiroloterij team management said that it had suspicions, but knew nothing.
Kemna, 45, told nusport.nl that he used EPO in the spring of 2003, with the drug supplied by the team doctor. “I knew it was forbidden and yet I took the step,” he said.
He started using it, he said, when the team in 2002 hired a new manager, Johan Capiot, and signed a number of experienced riders. That changed the atmosphere of the team, he said, with Capiot introducing “green zones,” when riders using EPO were not to race.
Kemna stopped using the drug after Gent-Wevelgem 2003, being panicked and feeling himself fooled. “How could I be so stupid?” he asked. He went on to win the Dutch national road title that year, but insists he won it clean.
The EPO was purchased for him by team doctor Peter Janssen, he said. Neither Janssen nor Capiot responded to the newspaper.
Kemna said that he decided to reveal his doping past because he wants to show the current Argos-Shimano riders how the cycling and doping culture has changed. “I hope my story and a little insight can contribute to that change, so that we have more guys on the right side and we can prevent them from having to make choices that they do not want to make, as I have done."
Six month suspension but with team support
In a statement issued Thursday morning, the team said that Kemna's decision to come forward was made in November, in conjunction with team management and sponsors.
It applauded his decision and said “it appreciates the transparency Rudi Kemna displayed and hopes that this will have enough impact to contribute to the most significant task that is facing competitive cycling at present: that for this and the next generation of cyclists, match outcomes can only be determined on the basis of talent, efforts and tactics, supported by modern coaching, guidance and innovation.”
However, Kemna will also face a suspension of six months, as required by an agreement by the Dutch cycling federation, the Dutch Doping Authority and the three Dutch WorldTour teams. Kemna also requested that this step be taken.
“Kemna furthermore stated that he thought it appropriate for him to be struck off after publicly sharing his experiences, simply because doping is not allowed and Kemna does not want to dodge his own responsibility, thereby also giving a signal to the outside world. The team respects this request and will lay off Kemna on the same basis as the penalties stated in the agreement between the two other Dutch cycling teams and the Dutch Cycling Union.”
Update: “He proposed the suspension himself,” team spokesman Geert Broekhuizen told Cyclingnews Thursday evening. “He has agreed to the six-month sanction specified in the covenant signed by the Dutch teams and the Dutch federation and Doping Authority.
“It is only uncertain when the sanction will start.”
Bankgiroloterij manager and team leader respond
Arend Schippink, Bankgiroloterij general manager from 1999 to 2004, said he knew nothing about doping at the team, but admitted that he may have been “naive” about it. “Maybe a little, yes.”
He also said that he changed his mind about Capiot after hiring him. “He tried to take things over behind my back. He was a deceitful little man,” Scheppink told Nusport. “If I had been allowed to so so, then Capiot would never have worked a day for me. Capiot was for me a loser.”
Former team leader Piet Hoekstra also said that he “did not know” about doping at the team, but that “I had suspicions. Serious suspicions.”
He added, “What could I accomplish if I did know, what do I get from it when I'm fighting a battle? (....) It was fighting a losing battle and I was voice crying in the wilderness.”