Confessed doper, former Rabobank rider Michael Boogerd has dismissed suggestions of a widespread doping culture within the Dutch team while also denying that Dr. Geert Leinders played a major role in enabling the practice.
On Wednesday, Boogerd revealed that he doped over a 10-year period of his 14-year professional career using EPO, blood transfusions and cortisone.
In an interview with De Telegraaf, Boogerd said that he believed that Leinders had been misrepresented in reports of what appears to be the widespread doping culture that existed within the Rabobank team from the late 1990s.
"I think it's terrible how team doctor Geert Leinders is put down," said Boogerd. "He is wrongly portrayed as a key figure in a doping network."
Leinders worked for Rabobank from its inception in 1996 until 2009. He most recently worked for Team Sky in 2011 and 2012, although the British team opted not to renew Leinders' contract in light of the revelations concerning the Rabobank team during his tenure. Leinders is reportedly the subject of a criminal investigation in Belgium following allegations made by former riders that he supplied them with doping products.
In contrast to the statements of several of Boogerd's former teammates, he also downplayed the amount of doping that was occurring at Rabobank. Danny Nelissen named Leinders when he confessed to using EPO at the team in 1996, while Levi Leipheimer is also reported to have told USADA that he was assisted by Leinders with his doping from 2002 to 2004. Thomas Dekker has previously stated that "doping was a way of life" within the team but Boogerd said that the culture should not be compared to that which occurred at the U.S Postal team or Festina.
"I have read all the books of former carers and former riders that expose what happened in Festina and U.S. Postal. Practices which I read those books, I've never seen at Rabobank," he explained.
"The doping with those teams for me was a whole different world. Some media seem to have the idea that it was the same culture that was at Rabobank. In my experience, it was absolutely not."
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