Leinders said to be facing criminal investigation in Belgium over doping allegations
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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Leinders said to be facing criminal investigation in Belgium over doping allegations

by Shane Stokes at 8:32 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Former Rabobank and Team Sky doctor under scrutiny

DopingSeveral months after his contract with Team Sky was not renewed, the doctor Geert Leinders is reported as facing criminal investigation by the Belgian prosecutor over alleged doping abuses. Dutch publication NRC Handelsblad quotes a spokesperson for the prosecutor as saying that ‘statements of Rabobank riders’ are the reason for the investigation.

Leinders was team doctor with the Rabobank team for several years, but left the team in 2009, citing disillusionment with team policy at the time. It is not clear what he was referring to, but the Dutch squad had clamped down on doping after the Michael Rasmussen affair.

According to former pro Jan Koerts, Leinders helped ensure that his haematocrit remained under the 50 percent limit and thus didn't trigger a suspension. Leinders was also said to have stated in the past that there is no room for a zero-tolerance approach in cycling.

In December, the Dutch newspaper NRC claimed that he provided Levi Leipheimer and others with doping products during his time with the team. It said that it got an unredacted version of the USADA Reasoned Decision and that Leinders was the person referred to as ‘Other 8’ in the version originally released by USADA.

In that affidavit, Leipheimer talks about his introduction to doping, his use of banned substances with the US Postal Service team and then his actions after leaving the squad. “I continued to use EPO while with Rabobank in 2002, 2003 and 2004, and was also assisted in using it by Rabobank team doctor [Other 8] from whom I purchased EPO,” he stated.

A number of other former Rabobank riders have spoken to doping investigators recently and are said to have named Leinders as a supplier of doping. The criminal charges are believed to relate to that.

Leinders was questioned last month for over three hours by officials of the Belgian cycling federation.

The Belgian came on board as one of Team Sky’s doctors in late 2010. The squad was set up with the stated policy of not employing any doctors from within the sport, but changed that stance during that season. It came under criticism for its appointment of Leinders last year when it became clear that there were question marks over him regarding his time with Rabobank.

During last year’s Tour Sky principal Dave Brailsford conceded there was a ‘reputational risk’ to the team as a result, but insisted that Leinders had not doped riders on the team. “I categorically, 100 per cent say there is no risk of anything untoward since he’s been with us.”

Brailsford said at the time that the team would call a full meeting with the press in the autumn to discuss in detail how the team was run, to show it was fully transparent and to address the Leinders issue, but this ultimately did not take place.

In October an unnamed team spokesman confirmed that he had departed. “Dr Leinders worked with Team Sky on a freelance basis and his contract has now ended,” he told the Telegraph.

“This summer, as promised, we looked fully into his work with us, interviewed him and talked to riders and the full medical team.

“We had no doubts about his work with us or his approach. Before employing him we also made checks, gathered references and he was interviewed by (sports psychiatrist) Dr Steve Peters.”

If Leinders is ultimately found guilty on doping charges, the thoroughness of those background checks will come into question.

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