Mixed reactions to Dutch anti-doping declarations

The Rabobank team

The Rabobank team (Image credit: Elmar Krings)

The anti-doping declaration initiated by the Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWU) concluded this week, and with no new confessions to prior doping from the country's three WorldTour teams, some are questioning the validity of the exercise.

In January, following the exit of long-time sponsor Rabobank from professional cycling and the links between former Rabobank team personnel and the Lance Armstrong doping investigation, the KNWU launched an initiative to survey all the WorldTour riders and staff on prior doping involvement.

The declarations were due April 1, and the results were announced by the KNWU today, with no new admissions of doping guilt.

Should any of the declarations be found to have been completed in a not truthful manner, the rider or staff member is now subject to an immediate dismissal.

The federation offered up a reduced six month suspension and a deduction of salary for three months to any who confessed to doping violations which took place before January 1, 2008. Any violations after that date would have resulted in an immediate dismissal, making it highly unlikely that any rider would confess to a more recent infraction.

The UCI, however, did not support the effort, which it saw as potentially interfering with any possible global Truth and Reconciliation process.

There were only two instances of past doping involvement unearthed by the declaration: that of the now-retired rider Grischa Niermann, who was given a six month suspension in his duties as a directeur sportif with the Rabobank Development team. The other case was that of Rudi Kemna, who accepted a similar ban from his duties as directeur of the Argos-Shimano team.

Richard Plugge, General Manager of the Blanco Pro Cycling Team, said in a statement that the declaration was "a good way to search for the truth and to close the door on the past."

"We asked everyone the questions in a formal interview," Plugge said, according to ANP. "We did that with confidence in our people and knowledge that this approach was widely accepted in the team. Everyone's answers were given and the results were passed to the Doping Authority. At Blanco there were no confessions."

There had been speculation that Blanco's directeur sportif Erik Dekker would confess to doping as part of the programme. Dekker was given a two-week 'health break' after posting a haematocrit value over the UCI 50% rule in October, 1999. The KNWU announcement seems to have ruled out any admission.

Vacansoleil-DCM general manager Daan Luijkx said he assumed that all of the employees on his team filled out the anti-doping statement truthfully.

"All employees were fully aware that they had a unique opportunity," Luijkx said in a statement. "That fact gives us the confidence that the declaration of behavior was truthfully completed."

Argos-Shimano manager Iwan Spekenbrink was less than satisfied with the research, pointing out the odd lack of admissions.

"'Doping was common at the time', they said in a press release. Now it turns out that isn't the case," Spekenbrink said. "No one has had anything to do with it."

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