The Vacansoleil-DCM team employed a false doctor during the 2011 season, according to Het Nieuwsblad and De Standaard. The Belgian newspapers report that Daniël De Martelaere, who spent six months on the team’s medical staff, was hired under false pretences and was not a qualified doctor.
De Martelaere reportedly presented himself as a doctor who had studied in the United States and said that he specialized in the coaching of endurance athletes. He was hired by the Dutch Vacansoleil squad at the beginning of the 2011 season and was licensed as a team doctor by the Belgian Cycling Federation.
“We committed an administrative error. We should have verified if this man really was a doctor,” Belgian federation spokesman Tom Van Damme told De Standaard. “I deeply regret that Vacansoleil didn’t report anything in 2011. We would have expected more honesty and responsibility from a WorldTour team.”
Vacansoleil-DCM team manager Hilaire Van der Schueren confirmed that De Martelaere was not a qualified doctor, but insisted that he had never been hired as such by the team.
“We didn’t extend his contract beyond 2011. De Martelaere wasn’t with us as a doctor, but as a chemist. He was the man who arranged internal doping controls,” Van der Schueren told Het Nieuwsblad.
When Vacansoleil’s Riccardo Riccò was hospitalised with kidney blockage following a home blood transfusion in February 2011, it was De Martelaere who travelled to Italy to compile a medical report on behalf of the team. Riccò was fired by the team shortly afterwards.
Het Nieuwsblad reports that riders and staff began to have concerns about De Martelaere’s credentials as the season progressed and the matter came to a head in June 2011. When De Martelaere signed off on blood tests performed at the Tour de Suisse, the laboratory highlighted the fact that they had not been certified by a qualified doctor.
Police in Ghent have reportedly opened an inquiry into the matter. The Vacansoleil team ceased operations at the end of the 2013 season following the withdrawal of its title sponsor.