Kittel says he wants lifetime bans and criminal charges for those who dope
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Kittel says he wants lifetime bans and criminal charges for those who dope

by VeloNation Press at 9:23 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
German responds to Zabel confession, affirms he has never used banned substances

Marcel KittelAsked for his views on doping in the wake of the admission by Erik Zabel that he used banned products for much of his career, Marcel Kittel has taken a hard line on the subject.

The German sprinter, who won four stages in this year’s Tour, has insisted he is a clean rider and has called on authorities to greatly step up the penalties for those who dope.

“We finally call for an anti-doping law in Germany so that doped athletes can also be pursued criminally. Drug abuse should be a crime that must be punished hard,” he told Die Welt.

“We all want tougher penalties for dopers. Those who use their own blood [transfusions], an EPO syringe or who take growth hormones should be banned for life. Because those are not things that someone does accidentally.

“Five, six years ago, an Omerta was spoken of, a secrecy imposed by the riders themselves. This Omerta no longer exists. Now it seems that most cyclists say what they think and see. I also think that there is no longer systematic doping within teams, and that some riders just dope individually.

Zabel’s disclosure yesterday came four days after the French Senate report was published, and showed that he had used EPO during the 1998 Tour de France. In 2007 he had insisted that he only doped during one period of a long career, using EPO for a week prior to the 1996 race.

He added that he suffered severe side effects and consequently never doped again.

The French Senate report proved that Zabel was lying in that earlier declaration and yesterday he admitted this was the case.

“EPO, cortisone, then even blood doping: it is still a big deal,” he admitted to, explaining that he used the substances between 1996 and 2003.

He said that lying during his earlier confession was done in order to limit the fallout. “Above all, I wanted to keep my life, my dream life as a professional cyclist,” he said.

In the light of that earlier denial, Kittel was asked why he should be believed. “I'm proud of what I achieved. I know that I get up every morning, look in the mirror and can tell myself that I have done those successes clean. I also would not have the heart to disappoint my parents, friends or fans,” he answered.

“If other people still think I'm not working clean, then it is an additional incentive for me to convince them otherwise. About me there is nothing to indicate doping.”

Kittel has been outspoken about the issue during his career. Earlier this year he made some thinly veiled comments criticising the Presidential Tour of Turkey winner Mustafa Sayar, a Continental level rider who dropped Pro Continental and WorldTour competitors to win the race’s second mountain stage and take over a leader’s jersey he would keep until the end.

Kittel himself faced accusations when it emerged last year that he had been administered the controversial black light therapy while being treated by the doctor Andreas Franke at an Olympic training site in Erfurt.

He accepted that he was given the treatment on a couple of occasions in order to help him recover from illness, but stopped in 2008.

However while the practice is forbidden by WADA under the category of blood manipulation, it was only added to the banned list two years ago. WADA confirmed to VeloNation in February 2012 that the practice was not breaking the rules prior to 2011.

“Just a few days ago, a judgement was given and it was all resolved,” said Kittel, in relation to a CAS ruling handed down which cleared him of all wrongdoing.

“I learned from it, to not trust everyone in the environment, as I did back then as a 18-year-old at the Olympic centre in Erfurt. For any young athlete, it is always important to be smart and to question everything. I was just too naive.

Asked how clean today’s cycling is, he said that the situation is far better than was the case before. However he also warned that some riders are still doping and that the controls need to be stepped up.

“I can not see inside [the head of] ever rider,” he said. “I can only speak for myself and the people who ride with me in a team. Our philosophy is clear: we want to do cycling clean.

“I think many other teams have also realized that this is the only right way. It is also clear that there are certainly still riders who take a shortcut. Therefore, it is very, very important to continue to tighten the controls and that they are consistently upheld.

As regards assurances, he believes that retests such as those carried out by the French senate in relation to the 1998 and 1999 Tours are an important deterrent. He believes that they can give increased confidence, with substances that cannot be detected at this point in time likely to be traceable in the future.

Asked about Chris Froome, he said that he must be considered the Tour champion. “He is the regular winner as long as a positive test does not exist,” he said.

“From talking with him he appears to have the same opinions as me on the issue of doping. Ultimately, however, only he knows himself what he does. You should now give him the confidence that he has earned with his victory. However, the follow-up checks from 1998 are likely to be have been a good lesson for those riders who still try something.”


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