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T-Mobile rider claims widespread EPO use

A former Team Telekom/T-Mobile rider claimed that team doctors from the Freiburg University Clinic distributed EPO (Erythropoietin) to riders during 2003 and 2004, public prosecutors in Freiburg, Germany said Monday night on German TV.

The rider, whose name was not released, rode for the team in those two years, but it was not clear as to whether those were the only two years, or whether he is still active. He allegedly made a comprehensive statement about doping practices at the team during those years.

"This is a witness whose identity I am not willing to disclose as this time, because we are planning further interrogations," chief prosecutor Wolfgang Meier told the FAZ.net.

Doping violations which occurred in 2003 and 2004 would not fall under the statute of limitations. Riders such as Rolf Aldag and Erik Zabel admitted in the last years to drug use in the 1990s, which were far enough back that they could not be prosecuted.

Maier explained that his office tracked EPO shipments to the clinic in Freiburg. Some came from a pharmacy in Elztal, Germany, a town 225 kilometres away. Both the distance and the large amounts of EPO delivered lead to the conclusion that the drug was not just for medical use, Maier indicated. The other source was a pharmacy in Milan, and he said that this investigation is continuing.

The rider is the second rider after Patrik Sinkewitz to claim that team doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich were involved in illegal doping. Sinkewitz, who joined the team in 2005, had said there were blood transfusions and had not mentioned EPO.

Sinkewitz tested positive for testosterone in an out-of-competition control before the 2007 Tour de France. He later confessed to having used blood doping at the Freiburg Clinic before and during the 2006 Tour. (SW)

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