Sinkewitz claims T-Mobile blood doped in 2006 Tour

By Susan Westemeyer

T-Mobile riders continued to use blood doping during the Tour de France 2006, Patrik Sinkewitz is alleged to have told the Bund Deutscher Radfahrer (BDR, the German cycling federation). According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, some of the riders were involved with blood doping at the University of Freiburg Clinic, which provided medical support to the team until this spring.

It had previously been reported that Sinkewitz had testified as to "the art and manner that doctors and team doctors administered doping products."

On the day before the 2006 Tour began, Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage were all suspended from the team on suspicion of being involved with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. The remaining seven riders were Andreas Klöden, Giuseppe Guerini, Serhiy Honchar, Matthias Kessler, Eddy Mazzoleni, Michael Rogers and Sinkewitz.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, part of the team was in Freiburg for treatments three or four days before the Tour started. Sinkewitz is said to have alleged that there were "repeated" autologous blood transfusions during the Tour.

The reduced team did well in the Tour. Klöden finished third overall and Rogers tenth, and the team took the team title. Kessler won a stage and Honchar won both time trials, and wore the leader's jersey for three days.

Of the seven T-Mobile riders, only two are still active: Klöden, with Team Astana, and Rogers, with T-Mobile. Guerini retired at the end of the 2007 season. Kessler, who also transferred to Astana this year, tested positive for testosterone, as did Sinkewitz. Mazzoleni left Team Astana this summer after being associated with the Oil for Drugs scandal, and Honchar was released from Team T-Mobile this summer after "irregularities" in his blood tests turned up.

Christian Frommer, head of sponsoring communications for Deutsche Telekom, the parent company of T-Mobile, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung, "Looking back, this unscrupulousness leaves me speechless." He added that, "the new findings will surely not be just swept away. We will speak internally over the possible consequences."

The University of Freiburg Clinic provided medical coverage to the team for many years. The coverage was stopped this spring, after doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich confessed to having provided team members with doping products during the 1990s. All previous claims had indicated that the doping activity stopped the end of the 1990s. However, Doctor Werner Franke, German anti-doping crusader, told the Badische Zeitung, "According to what I know, Sinkewitz had several blood transfusions in the year 2006, at least one of them at the Sports Medicine Department at the Freiburg University Clinic." Sinkewitz is alleged to have said that he was primarily handled by Heinrich.

The Clinic did not comment on the specific charges. Hans-Hermann Dickhuth, leader of the Department for Rehabilitative and Preventative Sports Medicine, told the Badischer Zeitung that "if that all that [concerning the blood transfusions] is true, then who ever did has lost his mind. If that is true, then I am appalled."

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