German prosecutors open Schumacher investigation

German Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) on his way to a stage victory

German Stefan Schumacher (Gerolsteiner) on his way to a stage victory (Image credit: AFP)

German authorities have opened an investigation of Stefan Schumacher and have already searched his house. Meanwhile, the cyclist has announced his intention of offering a written statement in the next few days.

An unnamed representative of the Stuttgart prosecutor's office said that Schumacher's house had been searched and some items were removed as evidence, according to the dpa press agency. The investigation is based on charges that he deceived his former employer Team Gerolsteiner.

Schumacher's attorney has criticised the doping investigators and expressed doubts about the tests. "It is still totally unclear to us from the material that we now have, under what conditions and which blood samples have allegedly tested positive for CERA three months later in the laboratory in Chataney-Malabry," he said. There are, he added, "justifiable grounds for doubt."

Lehner added that "Contrary to media reports, Stefan Schumacher's blood values at the pre-race controls at the Tour de France on July 3 and at the control on the rest day July 15 were not only unexceptional but also totally in the normal range. The A-samples which were tested shortly after both doping controls were both negative, without signs of doping."

The attorney further said that his doubts were fuelled by the fact that Schumacher was the last to officially hear the news – from the public prosecutor, during the house search, who personally gave him the letter from the AFLD (French Anti-Doping-Agency). It was already opened and didn't contain the German translation which it was supposed to have."

Lehner further said that "There will be a written explanation from Stefan Schumacher today or tomorrow," he said. Lehner added that he would not again advise a client to "tell all," as he previously did with Jörg Jaksche and Patrik Sinkewitz, neither of whom has found a new team, "Nobody says officially: 'We don't hire traitors.' But in the end that's the way it is."

Heinz Betz, Schumacher's manager, said that the cyclist is "totally destroyed and has withdrawn from everything."

Betz said the AFLD claimed to have sent Schumacher a letter during the first week of the Tour, "asking him to discuss his blood values with his team doctor. Stefan never received such a letter, and his blood values during the Tour were normal."

"I will do my part ... to clear up these confusing circumstances," Betz said. He noted that since there are many doubts about this case, "I support my client." But, he added, "If it should be proved that Stefan doped, then my work with him will end."

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