The hematologist who cleared Erik Dekker of using EPO in 1999 now says that the report on the matter "belongs in the trash."
Dekker, while riding for Rabobank, was found to have a hematocrit value of 52 on October 9, 1999 and was not allowed to race for the Dutch team in that year's world championships road race. He was stood down for a two-week period for "health reasons" as per UCI regulations.
An independent commission was established by the Dutch federation to determine whether Dekker's high haematocrit was due to EPO use. Hematologist Jo Marx presented his findings to the commission and explained at the time that there were abnormal conditions during the blood control, namely that the tourniquet was held in place for too long.
"Scientifically, this research stood for nothing," the now-retired Marx told Volkskrant. "Research was applied with very poor means. Work that belongs in the trash. In my field there is a rule: if you can not publish something, it does not exist. This research does not exist. "
Marx said that, at the time, it was legally impossible to determine whether Dekker had used EPO.
"We could not rule out 100 per cent that he had used EPO," he explained. "But the question was actually different: was there sufficient grounds to accuse someone of EPO use? We could not say. "
Marx said that he asked Dekker if he had in fact used EPO but the rider denied it. There is speculation that Dekker, currently a directeur sportif with the Blanco team, will make an announcement today, and Marx said that he would not be surprised if the former Amstel Gold winner and four-time Tour de France stage winner were to confess to doping during his career.
"But I hope he did not do it," said Marx. "At least, not in the period in which I have examined him. If he did, then it is his own business.
"That lie is a matter of self-preservation for a rider. At that point in time he could not say: I have used doping. "