German court rules Holczer must have known about doping on Gerolsteiner team
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

German court rules Holczer must have known about doping on Gerolsteiner team

by Shane Stokes at 8:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Judge throws out former team manager’s case against Stefan Schumacher

Hans Michael HolczerAlthough he long claimed that he was running a clean team at Gerolsteiner and then, after it became clear that several of the riders had doped, insisted he didn’t know about their substance use, a court in Germany has ruled that Hans-Michael Holczer was not telling the truth.

Holczer had taken a case against German rider Stefan Schumacher, who won two time trial stages in the 2008 Tour de France but then tested positive for CERA. This case plus the similar positive test by Bernhard Kohl – who had finished third overall in the race and won the King of the Mountains competition – ensured that Holczer was unsuccessful in his search for a new sponsor for the Gerolsteiner team.

He decided to sue Schumacher over the matter. However the district court in Stuttgart running on the case has thrown it out, with dpa reporting that Judge Martin Friedrich had ruled that Holczer must have known about the doping on the team, and was therefore not deceived by his former rider.

The demand that Schumacher return the three months’ salary he received between the time of his positive test and its announcement was dismissed, and so too prosecutor Peter Holzwarth’s demand of a fine of 16,800 euros for Schumacher.

During the time the Gerolsteiner team was racing, Holczer had claimed repeatedly that he was running a clean team. However he denied that internal testing was necessary, saying that he knew and trusted his riders.

Both Schumacher and Kohl were handed lengthy suspensions after their positive tests. Kohl admitted all and retired, while Schumacher denied doping and returned after his ban. He competed with the Miche Silver Cross team in 2010 and 2011, then moved to the Christina Watches – Onfone squad.

He finally admitted in March of this year using banned substances, telling Der Spiegel the doping products he had consumed. “I used EPO, also growth hormone and corticosteroids… I went along with the system. I am not proud of it, but that's the way it was.”

He also said at the time that Holczer was fully aware of the situation.

A third rider from the team, Davide Rebellin, tested positive for CERA after he finished second in the Olympic road race in Beijing. His positive test was not announced until April 2009.

Holczer joined the Katusha team in 2011, acting as general manger, but lost that position last October. Former US Postal Service rider Viatcheslav Ekimov took over the role. Holczer now works as a consultant with the team.

In 2010 he released a book called Garantiert Positiv, and stated in it that Levi Leipheimer was right on the borderline of being suspended from the 2005 Tour de France due to blood test values. The American rider returned an off-score reading of 132.8, just 0.2 off the threshold that would have seen him put out of competition by the UCI.

Holczer stated that the UCI wrote to him and recommended that he take the rider out of the Tour. However he admitted that he decided not to do so, saying that he was worried about legal action and also that Gerolsteiner might have dropped its backing of the team.

"There was a moral commitment and a legal threat,” he said, according to the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. “I decided to be silent.”

Leipheimer went on to finish sixth in the race. He admitted long term doping last year and was one of the riders who testified to USADA about drug use on the US Postal Service team.

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