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Danish anti-doping report

24th June 2015

Team Tinkoff Saxo at the 2014 TDF team presentation

Anti-doping Denmark (ADD) yesterday published a report on doping by Danes and others in men's professional cycling, in particular on team CSC, run by Bjarne Riis.

The investigation was prompted by the USADA report (October 2012), which contained information about Danish rider Michael Rasmussen ('rider 14'), and by subsequent interviews of Rasmussen by ADD. Rasmussen provided information about doping by other Danish riders and support personnel.

Fifty people were interviewed as part of ADD's investigation, the interviewees having been promised confidentiality and anonymity (unless they specifically consented to their testimony being published). The purpose was to see whether doping cases could be brought against specific Danish riders, and to look more generally at doping in Danish cycling from 1998 to 2015. The Danish cycling team run by Bjarne Riis, originally Team Home Jack & Jones, later CSC, and sold by Bjarne Riis in December 2013 (now Tinkoff Saxo), was at the heart of the investigation.

ADD concluded that Bjarne Riis, Johnny Weltz, and Alex Pedersen had all committed doping violations, and it would have been able to bring cases against them, but for the statute of limitations (8 years, now increased to 10 years from the start of 2015). Despite the cases being time-barred, ADD continued with the investigation because it revealed a systematic doping culture in cycling. The culture includes use of EPO, cortisone and blood doping. 

An 'omerta' also exists in nternational cycling, and ADD commented that '...some interviewees seem to have a 'selective memory' based on an established culture of omerta where you did not speak about others and kept your knowledge to yourself. It is the impression of the group that some interviewees have been reluctant to speak about other person's doping violations.'

The case against Riis is that he has admitted blood doping during his own career, and therefore knew about the practice; and that when he was sports director of CSC, he knew that Tyler Hamilton was using Dr Fuentes for blood doping, and did nothing to stop it. ADD also found that Riis:

  • asked Bo Hamburger to provide EPO to Jorg Jaksche
  • allowed comprehensive use of cortisone on team CSC without medical justification
  • knew that riders other than Tyler Hamilton were using doping

Riis's silent acceptance of doping on his team amounted to 'complicity' in doping under the WADA code. The same applies to Johnny Weltz and Alex Pedersen.

The report recommends that the doping control system be improved by allowing doping controls at night where there is a justified suspicion of doping, to combat micro doses of EPO or blood; that samples be stored long-term, to allow reanalysis when new techniques are developed; that there should be rules to delay or withhold access by athletes to information about their blood values, to prevent them cheating using micro dosing.

There are also recommendations in the report of ways to increase the level of responsibility of the teams, including introducing a 'fit and proper person' test for sports directors and team doctors, and imposing team fines when employees commit anti-doping violations.

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