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T-Mobile doctors deny charges

Clinic names investigatory panel

By Susan Westemeyer

The two doctors named by a former soigneur as having provided doping products to Team Telekom riders during the Tour de France 1996 have again denied the charges against them. Letters from Doctors Lother Heinrich and Andreas Schmid refuting the charges were released this week by the University Clinic Freiburg, which also announced a panel to investigate those charges.

In his letter, Heinrich said that "the charges are not for me to be understood and do not have any basis." He added, that "As a doctor, it is my duty to maintain the health of my patients and to handle illnesses. ... For me to inject EPO or to provide it to masseurs to pass on, therefore does not come into question for me."

Heinrich further noted that "as compared to other team sports, the pro cyclists train all around the world, usually at the place where their families live. They meet at races and training camps. Those are the only places where they are treated by the team doctors. That explains why daily health controls like by football teams, for example, are not possible."

Schmid said, "I reject the charges made against me by the Belgian former soigneur. They have no basis in fact. I have never given athletes EPO or growth hormones, provided it to athletes or so-called soigneurs or sent an athlete a plan for the use of doping preparations, nor prepared such a plan."

The University Clinic Freiburg has announced the members of an independent investigatory commission which will look into charges raised against Doctors Schmid and Heinrich.

The commission will be led by Dr. Hans Joachim Schäfer, a judge with experience in medical matters. He will be joined by Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Schänzer, a sports scientist and head of the Institute for Biochemistry at the Deutsche Sporthochschule in Cologne, and Dr. Ullrich Schwabe, from the Pharmacology Institute at the University of Heidelberg.

In addition, the commission wil be able to call on international experts such as Prof. Dr. Bengt Saltin of the Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, Dr. Urs Meyer of the Biozentrum, University of Basel, and Prof. Dr. Peter Hemmersbach of the Hormone Laboratory of the University Clinic Oslo.

The Medical Director of the Freiburg Clinic, Prof. Dr. Matthias Brandis, condemned doping in sport. "Especially the medical profession forbids the support of measures that damage human health and fairness in sport." However, he supported the two doctors, saying, "As long as there is no evidence supporting the charges, the presumption of innocence applies."