By Susan Westemeyer
T-Mobile Team Manager Bob Stapleton believes his captain Michael Rogers when he says he was not involved in doping during the Tour of France 2006, as described by Patrik Sinkewitz. "We know that Rogers has been part of a strict anti-doping programme in 2007 and has totally followed all of our rules," he said in an interview with the German news magazine WELT.
Stapleton took over the team in 2007, and said that while he knew big changes would have to be made, the biggest disappointment of all was the behaviour of the team doctors from the Freiburg Unversity Clinic. "It is absolutely discouraging to find out that medical professionals were so deeply involved. That they so convincingly assured us that there had never been doping in the then-Team Telekom. My biggest personal failure was to believe them."
The recent revelations "have shown me very clearly that the change in management that the sponsor made as of 2007 was totally necessary. At the same time, we should have changed more," the 49 year-old said.
And more changes are planned for the coming season. "We will test the riders not just for blood doping everyone will be tested 26 times during the year and have a blood profile but we will also test for all substances that are testable: growth hormones, stimulants, steroids, and EPO." It won't be cheap," he noted. "The budget is higher than all our travel costs together and those are pretty high."
Stapleton said that it was possible that Sinkewitz and Jörg Jaksche could eventually sign with the team, even if he did phrase it more hypothetically than practically. "Our team is always open to riders who are ready to do the right thing."