Former cyclo-cross world champion, and pre-race favourite for this weekend’s Worlds, Mathieu van der Poel has said that anti-doping controls should be made public by riders. The comments come after Kevin Pauwels posted his doping control form on Twitter earlier this week, swiftly followed by Van der Poel himself.
Following their decision, calls came for reigning world champion Wout van Aert to publish his anti-doping controls, but the Belgian said in a press conference ahead of the World Champions that he would not be doing the same as his two competitors. Van der Poel respected the choice of Van Aert but said that publishing the documents would help with the sport’s transparency, although there is nothing to say that a rider must do it.
“So it was for myself; it was not meant to provoke Wout van Aert,” Van der Poel said at his pre-Worlds press conference, according to Het Nieuwsblad. “He is also perfectly entitled not to do so. Just because you do not make something public, it does not mean that you have something to hide. It is his privacy. But perhaps it is good that we do all this publicly in the future. For me, each test should be put online. There needs to be more transparency, and it could be a pivotal moment in the sport.”
Riders are required to declare the use of any medication or supplements on the forms supplied when visited by doping control officers. Van der Poel’s anti-doping control form showed that he had been using multivitamins and beetroot juice. Any TUEs must also be declared by the rider. On that subject, Van der Poel was very direct, saying that they are open to misuse and the rules around them should be stricter.
"I'm not saying that nothing should be allowed, but it is unfortunately misused in many ways,” said Van der Poel. “If you're struggling with something, then the best thing to do is to rest. TUEs can naturally be used, but it is not the healthy way. It also seems a good idea to then stay a month on the sidelines instead of the current line of ten days. If it's the only way to ride a World Cup ...?
“Maybe you are doing nothing wrong, but I would not personally do it secretly but at a press conference with a doctor immediately. But again, it’s not healthy.”
While Van der Poel said that he had no intention to stoke the fire of doubt against Van Aert, the publication of his documents has put some pressure on the Belgian. As well as saying that he has no intention to publish his anti-doping control documents, Van Aert was forced to deny requesting a TUE for cortisone. Van Aert has been suffering from a knee injury of late and had to skip the final round of the World Cup in Hoogerheide.
"I have been suffering from an inflammation of the knee for the last few days,” Van Aert said in his press conference. “I mean it when I say that I do not know if I will be good Sunday. Two weeks is not enough to sort everything out. This creates doubt.
“But I use no cortisone or other TUEs. On Wednesday, I had a doping control, and I feel no need to share data with the world. Why my colleagues have put online, you should ask them. Just ask Kevin, who can explain it well. The only sad thing is that some people think that I had no injury."
Van der Poel said of Van Aert’s comments, “when Wout says that it will be so. I see no reason to doubt it.”
Van der Poel and Van Aert will battle for the world title in Bieles, Luxembourg on Sunday.