Boogerd gives detailed confession about doping to Dutch media
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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Boogerd gives detailed confession about doping to Dutch media

by VeloNation Press at 6:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Former Amstel Gold Winner states final straw was when eight year old accused him in front of his son

Michael BoogerdAfter years of denials, after years of insistence that he always raced clean, Michael Boogerd has finally succumbed to pressure and admitted that he did indeed use banned substances during the bulk of his racing career. The Dutchman, who competed as a professional between 1993 and 2007, has said that he began doping in 1997, one year after taking a stage in the Tour de France and finishing 31st overall. He continued until the end of his career, using banned substances during his period as one of Rabobank – and Dutch cycling’s – top riders.

In a long interview, Boogert told De Telegraaf that after he turned pro, he trained hard but found himself going backwards on the climbs. This area of the sport had been his strong point as an amateur, but he said that he could no longer keep up with the other riders on such terrain.

However he said that he saw signs of doping even when he was an amateur rider, with strong performances during the season mattering little when it came to the biggest race. “Throughout the year we, the Dutch riders, could compete with the best, but we played no significant role in the world championships. The Italians especially were suddenly ten times stronger. I remember a world championship team time trial as juniors where we were even overtaken by them.”

Boogerd said that he resisted until early 1997, but that it was his Tour stage success several months earlier which ultimately was the catalyst for him to take the decision to dope.

“In 1996 I won a stage in the Tour de France, but after that race I didn’t move forward. Because of that stage win there were many eyes on me and more was expected of me,” he explained to De Telegraaf. “The fear that I could not fulfil those expectations began to dominate. I knew that EPO was the panacea. That many in the pack used it, that it was not traceable in controls and that it was readily available.

“During a training period in the winter of 1997, I first used EPO. It was not like I immediately thought that there was an engine on my bike, but in subsequent races I felt the difference uphill.”

Boogerd rationalised that decision, saying to himself that this is what professional cycling was about. “That I was more willing to do everything to become a good cyclist. I didn’t find it tough and I’ve never really seen it as something wrong.”

In the interview, Boogerd admits using cortisone and blood transfusions and, after repeated denials, has now accepted that he was indeed a client of the Humanplasma blood bank run by Stefan Matschiner.

However even though he made a lot of money from the sport and from his use of banned substances, he insists that he was a victim of the system. Because of that, he said that he won’t name names. “I’m owning up to the mistakes that I’ve made,” he said. “I am responsible for my decision to use doping and don’t want my mistakes to be on someone else. I possibly risk a heavier penalty. However, I am no traitor and love my principles.”

He also said that he showed restraint compared to some others. “I was always careful. I took no risks. I wanted absolutely nothing to do with products that you heard stories about but were dangerous. I used with moderation and never went close to the boundaries of a positive control.”

Boogerd has been under pressure for a long time to own up, but always insisted that he was clean and that he had not broken any rules. Matschiner is one of those who was pushing for him to speak honestly, the former dope supplier saying recently that Boogerd was not being truthful. “I want him to step forward. He must stop lying,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.

Final straw – an accusation in front of his son

Talking about what prompted him to finally change his tune, the 40 year old ex pro explained that an encounter last Saturday at a football match was the tipping point. He said that an eight year old boy spoke to him and that his words were difficult to hear. “Hey Michael. I saw you yesterday in the newspaper. You have used doping, eh,” he relates the boy as saying, in front of Boogerd’s own son.

“I could have fallen to the ground,” he said, upon seeing his son’s reaction. “This confrontation was very painful. For me it was the umpteenth time I understood that I had to make a clean sweep. That the story must be told, so I can continue without that lie in my life.”

However Boogerd appears yet to be unwilling to fully embrace the truth, telling NOS Sport in a TV interview to be aired tonight that while he may have doped at certain points, that he never took substances during cycling’s biggest race. “It was in periods…usually periods of training in preparation for competitions,” he said, adding “I have always ridden the Tour clean.”

The fact that such substances have a lingering effect has not been lost on many, who today have reacted by pointing out that doping in the buildup to the Tour also enhances performance in the race itself.

Boogerd’s best performance in the race was fifth overall in 1998, the year of the Festina Affair. He was tenth in 2001 and finished twelfth in his final Tour in 2007.

In addition to that, he won races such as Paris-Nice, the Setmana Catalana, the Amstel Gold Race, Brabantse Pijl, the Giro dell'Emilia, the GP Beghelli and three editions of the Dutch road race championships.

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