Before the start of the Tour it was my intention to avoid the subject ‘doping’ in my column, doping however still does not release the Tour. During a total of sixteen years I was in control of professional cycling teams and several times I have experienced extremely turbulent times. The ‘Festina Tour’ of 1998 formed a dramatic change in my cycling life, paranoia, lack of respect for the individual and a merciless man hunt characterised cycling hence forward. The pictures of the recent doping cases where riders are removed hand cuffed by the police force surrounded by cameras recall mixed feelings. On the one hand I wonder myself if this muscle power behaviour of the French justice is really necessary, on the other hand I must establish that apparently there are still idiots who think they are untouchable. ‘Own fault so who cares’ therefore?
For sixteen long years I carried the (shared) responsibility to stipulate how the teams for which I worked for had to be placed in the peloton. How could I explain that it was possible that in the middle of nineties our riders were entirely blown away in the classifications of the mayor tours? And did we also had to start a search for the ‘philosopher’s stone’? Continuously calculating result-risk ratio, how far are others going for God's sake and how far did you possibly had to go along in this? Essential criteria have always been for me: health, the well-being and the future of the rider after its career. The rider determinated his own choices, absolutely without pressure from team or sponsor, in conformity with the regulations and laws. I took a mayor piece of responsibility for that, you cannot send riders in the jungle and subsequently close your eyes. Results very well, but not against any price. During my career as a rider and team leader I was involved in innumerable large victories, built nice teams, was involved in hundreds of doping controls and health controls, actively or passively. One positive case is unfortunately the balance,
Several riders of the generation 1990-2000 are now active as a team managers or -directors, have been punished (heavily), confessed their obstructions, got off with a fright or made a choice for a clean career. I can establish that of this current generation several made many more extreme choices during their career then myself. Also I can asses that exponents now stating to represent the era of ‘new cycling’ are not as straightforward as it might seem. He who is without sin …
It is cycling’s choice to stick it’s neck out: the number of controls is enormous, the methods progressive, the riders must provide their whereabouts on an hourly basis and the sport wants to cry it out in the media. Some countries included doping provisions in criminal law. Blood passports in combination with targeted controls have proven to be highly effective. Some decades ago a positive control resulted in a three months conditional suspension, the news hardly reached the newspapers. With publicly executing the last doping user after the 10th generation of EPO can be suddenly traced, will cycling also die?
Real change takes place particularly if all team managers will take each other seriously, will act as such and not take the others for idiots. Freedom of choice - in spite of all controls- will always continue to exist.Go back to the overview page