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Belkin sports director Jeroen Blijlevens implicated in French Senate's report

Former Dutch sprinter Jeroen Blijlevens is the only rider from the Netherlands named on the list of EPO positives from re-tested 1998 Tour de France samples issued by the French Senate on Wednesday. Blijlevens is currently Belkin's sports director.

Blijlevens was part of the 1998 TVM team and won the fourth stage of the Tour de France from Plouay to Cholet. The team left the Tour de France after soigneur Willy Voet was caught with banned substances in his car and team director Cees Priem was arrested by the French police.

Forty-one-year old Blijlevens signed a declaration earlier this year where he stated to have never used doping. All riders and staff of the three Dutch cycling teams Blanco (now Belkin), Argos-Shimano and Vacansoleil-DCM plus the Dutch cycling union KNWU asked their staff four questions related to the use of banned substances. "We want to know the truth in order to provide closure to the past. Therefore we have held formal meetings to address this," Richard Plugge, manager of the then Blanco team stated on the team's website.

Staff members and (former) riders of the three teams and the KNWU could confess before the 1st of April. The consequences of answering one of the four questions with a ‘yes' was a six-month suspension and loss of three months wages. Only Argos-Shimano sports director Rudi Kemna and KNWU talent coach and former Rabobank rider Grischa Niermann confessed and were suspended accordingly. The other questionnaires came back with four no's.

When the results were published in April of this year Richard Plugge stated: "Everyone has participated and answered the questions we asked them. There were no doping confessions at Blanco."

Today, the French Senate's list reveals Blijlevens did use EPO in the 1998 Tour de France and therefore did not answer the questions truthfully.

When contacted by Cyclingnews, Belkin press officer Leon Brouwer said there would be a meeting with Blijlevens soon.

"The results of the Senate's investigation are publicly available," he said. "We will have a meeting with Jeroen on a very short term. We won't wait long to publish our reaction."

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