Possible Olympic cycling doping probed
LAUSANNE, Switzerland ” The IOC opened an investigation Wednesday into possible doping violations in cycling at previous Olympics following recent drug confessions by members of the Telekom team.
A flurry of admissions by former Telekom riders last week that they used EPO further damaged cycling’s credibility. Those who admitted doping included Bjarne Riis of Denmark, who said he won the Tour de France in 1996 with the help of EPO.
The International Olympic Committee set up a disciplinary panel “to inquire into possible anti-doping violations at previous Olympic Games, in connection with recent revelations concerning the Telekom Cycling Team.”
“The IOC finds the revelations in recent days disappointing … and is therefore determined to look into the matter and any possible impact it might have had on the Olympic Games,” the IOC said.
The IOC has the power to strip medals or annul results from previous Olympics going back eight years.
The probe could put further scrutiny on Jan Ullrich, the 1997 Tour de France champion who won the Olympic gold medal in the road race and silver in the time trial at the 2000 Sydney Games.
Ullrich, a former Telekom rider, retired in February after being implicated in the Spanish doping scandal. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Former Telekom riders Erik Zabel, Rolf Aldag and Christian Henn admitted using EPO during the 1990s.
Henn won a bronze medal in the road race at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Doctors Lothar Heinrich and Andreas Schmid admitted last week that they supplied the blood booster EPO to riders with the Telekom team in the 1990s. The team is now known as T-Mobile.
The doctors were employed by the University of Freiburg clinic, which fired them. The district attorney’s office in Freiburg is investigating.
The IOC said its investigation will also look into possible violations by University of Freiburg doctors.
Last weekend, a doctor for Germany’s Olympic team admitted providing performance-enhancing testosterone to riders as far back as 1980.
Georg Huber, who worked on six Olympic teams, was suspended by German cycling authorities and the University of Freiburg. He also worked at the university clinic.
The IOC commission will be chaired by Swiss lawyer and IOC executive Denis Oswald. The two other members are Sergei Bubka, the former Ukrainian pole vaulter who sits on the IOC board, and Swedish IOC vice president Gunilla Lindberg.
The panel will submit recommendations to the IOC executive board, which would take any action. No timeframe for the investigation was given.
The silver medal in the 2000 road race went to Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan, winner of last year’s Spanish Vuelta. His Swiss-based Astana team was banned from the Tour de France last year because five other team riders were linked to the Spanish doping investigation.