Boogerd admits decade of doping

Former top Dutch cyclist Michael Boogerd becomes eighth cyclist from Rabobank team to admit doping.

    Boogerd admits decade of doping
    The 40-year-old, who won two stages of the Tour de France in 1996 and 2002, admitted using the banned blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO), cortisone, as well as receiving blood transfusions [AFP]

    Former Dutch professional cyclist Michael Boogerd, a spring classic specialist who once edged Lance Armstrong to win the Amstel Gold Race, admitted to using performance enhancing drugs for a decade during his career in interviews published on Wednesday.

    "I used EPO, cortisone and in the last period of my career I did blood transfusions,'' Boogerd told national broadcaster NOS.

    He said he doped from 1997 to 2007, a period that covered almost his entire professional career.

    "I'm sorry I kept the (doping) culture alive,'' he said.

    "I'm sorry I never put up my hand and publicly said, 'this can't go on. It's not good.' And I'm sorry I wasn't riding in another era.''

    He admitted using the Austrian blood lab, Humanplasma, for transfusions.

    "I flew to Vienna for blood transfusions,'' he said. "I stored my own blood for later use.''

    Boogerd did not identify anybody who helped him dope.

    "I'm not naming people,'' he said.

    "It was my responsibility, my choice.''

    The confession came after several reports linked the former Rabobank rider to doping practices, including going to the Vienna lab.

    High-profile career

    Boogerd, who retired in 2007, had two Tour de France stage wins and won the Amstel Gold classic in 1999, narrowly beating Armstrong, who has also confessed to doping during his seven-straight Tour victories.

    Boogerd's greatest triumph was widely regarded as the 2002 Tour 16th stage win in the French Alps, including a solo climb to the finish in La Plagne. He also won a Tour stage in 1996, escaping from the pack to win in pouring rain.

    His best overall finish in the Tour was fifth in 1998.

    After his career, Boogerd became a regular cycling commentator for NOS.

    He is the latest rider from the now disbanded Rabobank team to admit doping, following the likes of Michael Rasmussen, a climbing specialist who won stage victories in the Tour de France and Spanish Vuelta. Rasmussen admitted earlier this year to taking everything from testosterone and growth hormones to blood transfusions from 1998-2010 in an effort to boost his performance.

    Rasmussen finished the Tour de France in 2005 and 2006 wearing the polka dot jersey as the best climber. He was overall leader of the 2007 Tour until he was kicked off for lying about his whereabouts when he missed pre-race doping tests.

    He later admitted that he had lied and was banned from cycling for two years.

    Inquiry

    Last month, Belgian authorities opened a judicial inquiry into Dr. Geert Leinders, who worked for the Rabobank and Team Sky cycling teams.

    The prosecutor's office in Dendermonde launched the investigation after a Dutch newspaper claimed that Leinders, a Belgian doctor, played a key role in alleged doping practices at the former Rabobank team.

    Rabobank ended its long sponsorship of professional cycling last year, saying ``the trust in the cycling world has gone'' following the publication of the US Anti-Doping Agency's report on Lance Armstrong.

    "It is with a heavy heart, but it is an irreversible decision for our bank,'' Bert Bruggink of the board of governors said.

    "We are no longer convinced that the international professional cycling world is capable of creating a clean and honest sport.''

    SOURCE: AP


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