Bjarne Riis has issued a press statement to respond to the allegations made by former rider Jörg Jaksche in the German magazine Der Spiegel. The Team Manager of CSC summarized that he is upset about the "turbulence" caused around his squad on the eve of the 2007 Tour de France and, thus, he has decided not to take an "active" role at the race.
"I strongly object to the accusations made in the interview with Jörg Jaksche," said the Dane. Jaksche rode for Team CSC for one year, in 2004. "I have not had any knowledge of, nor have I encouraged the use of illegal substances by Team CSC riders. ... My conscience is clean, but if Jörg Jaksche has another view on the matter, he needs to present documentation in proof of his allegations."
Jaksche noted the training controls initially were "pretty lax." The German said he stopped taking EPO after the 2004 Paris-Nice because of the increased risks of being caught. "Cortisone, however, we took pretty much all season long," he admitted of that year.
"I have replied at length to the accusations that have been made, but Der Spiegel decided not to print my replies," continued Riis.
The winner of the 1996 Tour de France recently came out and admitted to doping during the year that he had won the French Grand Tour.
"I am upset by the fact that my team, my staff, my riders and especially our sponsors are confronted by these allegations on a daily basis, and I am also upset that I have become the target of such accusations following my public confession. I came forward in order to wipe the slate clean, not to claim the responsibility for other people's mistakes. They alone have that responsibility."
Team CSC has been leading the way with their own anti-doping program in the wake of recent scandals and it supports the UCI ProTour Anti-Doping Programme 100% against doping. Riis reminded the naysayers of his work.
"It bothers me a great deal that the ground breaking and sincere work Team CSC is doing to fight doping has to be compromised ... I know we are fighting harder than anyone else to try and rid the sport of doping and my riders and our sponsors deserve credit for that.
"At the moment, I am surrounded by so much turbulence and I do not wish for this to have a negative effect on the focus or in any way influence the atmosphere surrounding the team during such an important race. ... I feel that I have come to the limits of my own energy.
"For the next three weeks the riders and Team CSC have the right to concentrate fully on Tour de France, and the debate regarding me and the allegations made against me will have to be taken elsewhere. I want to fight to clean my name and I want to find the energy to do that."
Riis stated he is removing himself from the Tour. "I have chosen not to be actively involved in this year's edition of the Tour apart from the obligations I have towards my sponsors. It has been a very difficult decision, but it is mine alone and is not made because of pressure from the outside, nor does it in any way reflect on whether there is any truth to the allegations."
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