Lotto boss Marc Sergeant has defended team doctor Jan Mathieu and his former rider Philippe Gilbert after an anonymous source claimed that Gilbert was administered cortisone by Mathieu in a bid to boost the rider’s performance.
Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad alleged that Gilbert used cortisone to enhance his performance during his time at the Lotto team.
Currently at BMC, Gilbert raced for Lotto from 2009 to 2011 and won six classics in his three seasons at the Belgian squad.
Gilbert responded to the allegation by writing to the publication. He stopped short of denying the use of cortisone but said:
"I’ve always done my job in a serious manner and in the best way possible,” he said. “I won big races both before and after my years at Lotto, and for the most part in the same fashion. I hope that says enough about it.”
At the finishline of E3-Harelbeke Sergeant told Cyclingnews, “It’s easy to accuse someone anonymously."
“We’ve been working with this doctor for nine year and if the allegations were the case then sure in all those years someone would have told me, ‘watch out you’re using too much’. I never had a warning or a remark so I don’t think it’s true.”
Riders are allowed medication such as cortisone under the TUE system. However, the allegations also centred around the abuse of the system and that Mathieu had concocted injuries in order to facilitate cortisone injections.
“A few years ago riders had books in which they had to write things like that in, but nowadays doctors have to call it in to the UCI and Dr Zorzoli and he makes a note of it. If it this happened several times as was written in the article then Zorzoli would have called and asked what are you doing? We never had a phone call.”
Asked by Cyclingnews if he and the team had kept medical records of injuries and medical prescriptions, Sergeant said.
“We’ve not had the record books for two years and now it’s between the doctor and the rider but for us I was not worried at all. I have full confidence in our doctor and in Gilbert.”
Last year Lotto joined the Movement for Credible Cycling’s (MPCC) in a bid to improve the credibility of the team and cycling as a whole. One of the MPCC’s main areas of concern centres around the abuse of cortisone within the peloton.