Vacansoleil DCM under scrutiny after reports that it employed an unqualified doctor
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Vacansoleil DCM under scrutiny after reports that it employed an unqualified doctor

by VeloNation Press at 7:15 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Belgian investigation underway into Daniël de Martelaere

Vacansoleil DCMThe Vacansoleil DCM team is under the microscope after reports that it employed an unqualified doctor for six months during the 2011 season, including the period when Riccardo Ricco was with the squad.

According to Het Nieuwsblad, a Belgian federal police investigation has been launched into Daniël de Martelaere, who worked with the squad two and a half years ago. His lack of medical qualification came to light when blood tests were carried out on riders during that year’s Tour de Suisse. Several of them had previously been concerned at his lack of medical knowledge.

In February of that year Italian rider Ricco was hospitalised after apparently trying to reinfuse blood that he had taken out beforehand. The liquid was improperly stored and caused a toxic reaction in his body, leading to a serious medical condition.

He recovered, denied telling doctors that he had manipulated his blood, but was ultimately given a twelve year ban.

It is not clear at this point if de Martelaere was in any way involved with Ricco’s actions. However his role on the team and its decision to employ an unqualified person as a doctor will be scrutinised by the police investigators. He apparently claimed to have studied in the US, but had no papers attesting to that.

De Martelaere is said to have worked with the former PDM team. He received a licence from the Belgian cycling federation when he joined Vacansoleil DCM, with that federation clearly not doing its due diligence. It has acknowledged that a mistake was made and expressed regret about that.

It learned of the issue in the summer and an investigation was started by the Orde van Geneesheren [Order of Physicians – ed.] Belgian federation president Tom Van Damme has spoken of his displeasure of the matter.

“I would have expected a bit more honesty and responsibility expected from a WorldTour team,” he stated.

The Vacansoleil and DCM companies ended their backing of the team earlier this year, with the funding due to run out at the end of the season. The squad sought new backers but was unsuccessful in doing so. However manager Hilaire Van der Schueren and several riders will race with the Wanty Groupe Gobert team in 2014.

Van der Schueren told Het Nieuwsblad that De Martelaere had not been acting as a doctor with the team, but rather as a chemist. His stated role could raise even bigger concerns. “He was the man who arranged the internal doping controls,” he said.

Van der Schueren said that he was not fired at the time, but that his contract was not extended.


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