Gerolsteiner manager, doctors knew of practices, German claims
Stefan Schumacher has confessed to doping during his career, naming EPO, growth hormone and corticosteroids. He also laid blame on his former team Gerolsteiner, saying team manager Hans-Michael Holczer knew what was going on, and that the team doctors actively helped.
Schumacher tested positive for EPO at both the 2008 Tour de France and the 2008 Olympics, and was subsequently given a two-year ban by the German Cycling Federation. Until today he has consistently denied ever having doped.
However, in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, he said “I used EPO, also growth hormone and corticosteroids.” He started doping in his early twenties. “I went along with the system. I am not proud of it, but that's the way it was.”
Schumacher rode for Team Gerolsteiner from 2006 to 2008, when he brought in his major victories, including two stages each at the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia, and time in the leader's jersey in both races. He also won the Amstel Gold Race in 2007.
Team manager Hans-Michael Holczer was not as innocent as he claimed, according to Schumacher. “He was aware of what was going on around him,” the German rider said. In addition to Schumacher, his Gerolsteiner teammates Bernhard Kohl and Davide Rebellin also tested positive for EPO-CERA in 2008; Kohl at the Tour and Rebellin at the Olympics.
“The allegations concerning my connivance with Schumacher's practices are totally baseless," Holczer told Cyclingnews.
The Gerolsteiner team doctors was actively involved in the doping practices, Schumacher said. “Anybody could just take most of the things right from the medicine box. It was totally crazy.”
After returning from his ban, Schumacher rode for Miche in 2010 and 2011. He has been with Christina Watches – Onfone since last season and brought in a number of victories. This season he won the opening stage of the Tour of Algeria and wore the leader's jersey for four stages before finishing the race third overall.
Schumacher and Holczer are scheduled to meet in a courtroom next month. German prosecutors have charged the rider with fraud, and deal with the three-month's salary he drew after testing positive but before the test results were announced.
Holczer indicated that Schumacher's confession was aimed at affecting this court case. “Schumacher has been charged with fraud in a district court. This charge came about after interviews with a lot of witness and is a 'criminal trial, not a civil case'," he told Cyclingnews. “Like many others from the team, I have been invited by the court to be a witness, and presumably a very important witness.”