The Royal Dutch Cycling Union (KNWU) deliberately concealed a positive EPO test in 2011, an investigation by Dutch website Wielerflits (opens in new tab) has found.
The rider, who has not been named but had competed in international races for the Netherlands, tested positive for EPO on May 4, 2011 in an out-of-competition test. The rider immediately retired from racing, with Wielerflits noting that they "managed to persuade the KNWU not to publicise the case."
Wielerflits has spoken to the rider in question, though has not publicised the name. It's reported that the rider was going through tough personal period at the time of the positive result, and was later handed a two-year ban by the KNWU on May 31, 2011.
"KNWU director Huib Kloosterhuis accepted my request at the time to keep the positive test out of the public eye because of family circumstances," the rider said. "Because I stopped cycling immediately, this was possible. According to Kloosterhuis, this was possible within the regulations."
At the time, the rider indicated that a lack of motivation was the reason for their retirement. Technical director of the KNWU at the time, Thorwald Veneberg, confirmed the rider's account of the situation.
"This assessment was made at the time by the then-director," he told Wielerflits (opens in new tab). "He informed me about it at the time. It was an extremely difficult and sad period for the person involved.
"The rider had confidential consultations with the director on the matter. He decided – exceptionally – not to publish it because of personal circumstances and because the rider stopped cycling.
"The KNWU is not obliged to make the athlete publicly known as long as it is certain that the suspension can be carried out effectively and that the rider won't compete during the suspension. That certainty was there."
Kloosteerhuis' decision to keep the suspension private was authorised by the KNWU disciplinary committee. Current KNWU Chairman Marcel Wintels did not respond to Wielerflits when asked whether he knew about the case.
National federations and anti-doping organisations are required per the WADA Code (14.1.2) to notify both the UCI and WADA about positive tests: 'the anti-doping organisation with results management responsibility shall also notify the athlete's national anti-doping organisation, international federation and WADA of the assertion of an anti-doping rule violation simultaneously with the notice to the athlete or other person.'
Anti-doping expert Douwe de Boer told Wielerflits that he knows of one other private case involving the KNWU, also drawing attention to the WADA Code.
"From the KNWU I know of another doping case from that period that hasn't been publicised," De Boer said. "This also happens in other countries. In any case, it must be reported to the relevant international association – in this case, the UCI – and to WADA. It must be possible for the sentence to be reviewed."
It's unclear whether the UCI or WADA were informed at the time, with Veneberg noting that the process is customary but saying that the relevant file "cannot be found right away – perhaps because we have switched to a different digital system or because the legal deadline to keep it has expired."
The UCI stated to Wielerflits that they will investigate the matter, including the matter of whether the notification was given, the length of the rider's punishment and whether the rider raced anywhere outside of the Netherlands during the period of suspension.
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