Marcel Kittel is proud to proclaim that he rides clean and is part of the “new generation of riders”. But he also knows that doping will never go away and therefore calls for criminal sanctions against dopers.
“I see myself with the other young athletes in German as a new generation of riders, who have specific ideas as to how they want to shape the future of cycling and call for that in clear words,” the Argos-Shimano sprinter told the German news magazine Die Welt. “I think that is a major difference to the riders who were at the start in the past. I want to fight to help cycling regain its credibility.”
One of the major steps that needs to be taken is “an anti-doping law in German, to criminally punish doped athletes. Doping should be a crime, which must be strongly punished. We all want harsher penalties for dopers,” he said.
“Those who re-inject their own blood or give themselves an EPO shot or swallow growth hormone should be given a lifelong ban. Because you don't do those things by accident.”
Kittel further claimed that the “omertà” said to surround doping “doesn't exist any more. In the meantime, most riders speak about what they think and see. I also think there is no more systematic doping in the teams. If there is doping, then it is done by individuals.”
He points to himself as an example. “I am proud of what I have achieved. I know that I can get up every morning, look at myself in the mirror and tell myself that I have achieved my successes cleanly. I just couldn't bring myself to disappoint my parents, friends or fans.”
Referencing Erik Zabel's confession to long-time doping, Kittel urged fellow German Jan Ullrich to follow suit. “I don't understand, why he wants to live with a lie, when it is so obvious how things were then. Like Zabel, Ullrich should finally tell the whole truth. It would be a relief to him to finally come out with the whole truth. It would also help us young athletes enormously, in order to finally have the past over and done with and not always be confronted with it.”
Kittel knows that he too could be accused of having using questionable methods. As an 18-year-old at an Olympic training center, he underwent the so-called UV light blood treatments. “I learned from that that you shouldn't trust everyone around you,” he said. “For every young athlete, it is always important to keep your eyes open and to question everything. I was simply too naïve.”
The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled last week that the blood treatments were not forbidden at the time and therefore did not constitute a doping violation.