Dutch cycling federation offers six-month bans for pre-2008 doping confessions

The Dutch cycling federation (KNWU), the three Dutch WorldTour teams and the Dutch Anti-Doping Authority are in the process of enforcing a new agreement which will see employees and riders who admit to doping violations dating from before January 1st, 2008 face reduced bans of six months as well as having their pay docked for three months.

However, according to the agreement, any riders who confess to any doping offences from after this date will face full sanctions as well as being sacked from their teams. Any new contracts, too, will now have to include the statement that a doping offence will automatically be followed by dismissal.

The deadline for confessing to doping offences is April 1st, 2013. It was also agreed that all employees and riders from Argos-Shimano, Vacansoleil-DCM and Blanco Pro Cycling – including non-Dutch riders and staff – are to fill in a signed statement and questionnaire by that date, detailing whether they took part in or witnessed doping between the years 1993 and 2008. Even if the questionnaire is left blank, it must still be signed.

For up to 2008 at least, the Dutch policy represents a ‘half-way house’ between the zero tolerance approach to past doping offences shown by teams like Sky and the usual two-year sanction for first-time doping offenders.

Last autumn, the Dutch cycling federation sent a strongly worded letter to the UCI saying that it felt that “We can not sufficiently answer the question whether or not the doping culture has become widely accepted in professional cycling in the recent years. The credibility of the sport and the institutions around it are therefore more than ever at stake.”

To resolve this, the letter called for four-year sanctions for first time offenders, penalties for teams, banning those with past links to doping from WorldTour teams, allowing only UCI-accredited WorldTour doctors to work with teams, and the separation of roles and responsibilities between the UCI and national federations.

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Alasdair Fotheringham

Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The IndependentThe GuardianProCycling, The Express and Reuters.