Belhage saw "too many uncertainties" with Damsgaard

Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard

Dr. Rasmus Damsgaard (Image credit: Sabine Sunderland/Cyclingnews)

By Susan Westemeyer

Doctor Bo Belhage of the Bispebjerg Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, said that he did not renew his contract with Rasmus Damsgaard to conduct team-internal doping controls because of too many uncertainties about the "actions, premises and intentions" of the programmes.

Belhage recently criticised Damsgaard and questioned his ethics and independence in running the anti-doping control programmes for Teams Saxo Bank and Astana. Belhage is the chief of medicine at the Bispebjerg Hospital.

"Anti-doping programmes need to be transparent to the public, especially when the programme originates in a public hospital," he said to Cyclingnews. "This means that closedness and uncertainties about the actions, premises and intentions of the programme are no-go's. I didn't feel these pivotal points were taken care of properly."

Belhage indicated that Damsgaard's acceptance of a bicycle from Saxo Bank in return for extra work done for them, as well as that extra work itself, were ethical violations. "There can be no money or gifts – call it whatever you like – between the policemen and the potential offenders."

Belhage spoke of Lance Armstrong because he believes the media improperly translated and quoted his previous comments. He said that he commented early last fall and that it was in response to a question regarding the possibility of conducting a testing programme for Team Astana, including Armstrong.

"The essence of the statement was, 'If we were to keep testing Astana including Armstrong, he would have to be tested like any other rider on Astana. No special treatment for Armstrong.'"

Earlier reports indicated that Belhage said that he was concerned that Armstrong would not participate in the programme. Astana spokesman Philippe Maertens told Cyclingnews earlier this week that Armstrong was participating in Damsgaard’s programme.

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