Agent defends Van der Vorst, who states she is back in wheelchair
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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Agent defends Van der Vorst, who states she is back in wheelchair

by Shane Stokes at 12:21 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Injury
“She’s faced accusations that she faked, but this isn’t true”

Monique Van der VorstOne day after the Rabobank team announced that its contract with former paralympian Monique Van der Vorst would end due to medical advice, she has told a Dutch publication that she has had a reoccurrence of her previous problem and was back in a wheelchair.

"I can not walk anymore. I have had a relapse after my earlier recovery and am now back in the wheelchair. I therefore can not ride,” she told Volkskrant.

Contacted by VeloNation, her agent Orlando Van den Bosch said that he couldn’t confirm that development as he hadn’t seen the article in question.

He did speak however about the end of her contract with Rabobank. “I can’t see much about it,” he stated. “The doctors say it is better not to do professional racing, which means at least of the moment that it could take a long time to make her a professional rider. The mission was to support her in that goal, and so now things will stop.

“We worked to find a solution with Rabobank; she accepted the decision, and Rabobank was fully supporting this. It is good that they took the responsibility to do this in a good way. It’s not about the financial aspect, but about taking responsibility and giving her support.”

The Volkskrant story quoted Van der Vorst as saying that her bid to reach the necessary form to eventually compete with the other Rabobank riders was frustrated by a crash before the season began. "I have ridden nothing,” she said, referring to races. “At the first training camp in Spain this winter I fell and broke my shoulder. Then the problems started.”

“I know she crashed in a training camp, but I am not sure about the injury there,” said Van den Bosch, when asked about the accident.

Insistence that paralysis was genuine:

Yesterday the International Paralympic Committee confirmed to VeloNation that its Legal and Ethics Committee was looking into the two silver medals she won at the Beijing Games in 2008, on the basis of apparent admissions by her that she had had periods of time when she was not paralysed.

“Monique was first classified in 2002 and reclassified in 2006,” IPC spokesman Craig Spence told VeloNation. “She competed in the 2008 Paralympic games and won two silver medals. Then she had the accident in 2010, then she was able to walk again; after that she confessed on Dutch TV a while ago that she was always able to walk.

“As a result of that we have referred the matter to our Legal and Ethics committee. They are considering the case that the moment, and there is a range of possibilities on what they can do. One of the things we could potentially do is remove the medals from her from Beijing.”

Van der Vorst had previously said that having lost the use of one of her legs at thirteen, she experienced paralysis in the second one when she was hit by a car prior to the Paralympic Games in Beijing in 2008. She said that she remained paralysed until July 2010 when, four months after being hit by a bike while training in her handcycle, feeling and then movement returned to her lower limbs.

However in March of this year the Dutch De Pers publication said that she had admitted to being able to stand and walk at limited moments during the years prior to that apparent miraculous recovery. It referred to ‘countless witnesses’ who had contradicted her story, including one who said that she was seen standing and putting her wheelchair in her car following a November 2009 presentation.

She acknowledged that there were times when she could walk. “I did not lie, I just didn't know which words to choose,” she told De Pers, somewhat peculiarly. “In hindsight what I said was untrue but I didn't know any better. I wasn't aware that I stood on my legs before. I shouldn't have been in the media, I reckon. I was so confused about everything that had happened. I just didn't know what was happening to me.

“How was I to explain something I didn't understand myself? And nobody really asked any further so I couldn't tell it any better.” She suggested that her problem might have a

Van den Bosch insists that her medals are genuine, though. “I am sure that it is not possible that she faked her condition for the Games. Last month I saw a few medical details which I cannot share,” he said. “I know that she was at the Olympics under the regulations; in those regulations it [her eligibility] is really proven. It can be proven that there's no reason that she couldn’t go for the medals there.

“She’s faced accusations that she faked but this isn’t true. In cycling, you can claim that a rider doped and he will find it very hard to prove his innocence. But he can live with it. But if you say that someone who has a disability faked it, it is very difficult for them to handle that, it’s very hurtful to make those claims.”

VeloNation pointed out that her quotes to De Pers were certain to increase confusion and speculation, and asked him if they would consider releasing details of her medical records in time in order to clarify the situation. He said that it might happen, but that there was another priority at this point in time.

“For the moment, we have to make sure that Monique will be okay again in a physical way,” he stated. “That is way more important.”


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