Omega Pharma Lotto denies any connection to Vansevenant doping case
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Omega Pharma Lotto denies any connection to Vansevenant doping case

by VeloNation Press at 5:25 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
 
Claims former rider ‘barely knows the team guys’

Wim VansevenantFollowing today’s news that former Omega Pharma-Lotto rider Wim Vansevenant is the subject of a doping investigation focusing on the illegal importation of ‘ultra-modern’ doping products, the team has denied all links with the action.

“We are stunned by the news,” said team manager Marc Sergeant, according to Het Nieuwsblad. “Everybody is surprised. I'm surprised and have no idea where this came from. A few days ago I saw Vansevenant at the Belgian championships and he was there acting normally and calmly. I think he himself knew nothing of the matter [the investigation].”

The package came from Australia and was intercepted two weeks ago at the airport in Zaventem. Customs officials got involved and the case has evolved since then.

Vansevenant competed with the team between 2003 and 2008. He was due to be one of the drivers of five VIP coaches that the team was bringing on the race.

Both Sergeant and team spokesperson Brunhilde Verhenne play down the matter. “He had not a lot of contact with our riders,” said the former. “He told me himself that he barely knows the team guys.”

“This news is totally unexpected,” stated Verhenne. “I want to emphasize that Wim Vansevenant is a former rider of the team. Apart from the fact that he was one of the five supervisors of the Omega Pharma-Lotto VIP coaches in the Tour, there are no ties with him. This investigation has nothing to do with our team. "

Verhenne said that the team would now send four VIP escorts instead of five. Team manager Geert Coeman said there was no way back. “Even if Wim Vansevenant is later completely exonerated, we cannot make him a driver on the Tour.

"Our team has a very good image. We certainly want it preserved. I hope for Wim that this is a storm in a teacup, otherwise he has a problem. We will now continue to focus on the Tour de France, in which we as a team want to do big things. Today the riders will again check out Sunday’s team time trial course.”

The evolving investigation will seek to determine who the doping products were intended for. The substances will also be analysed. For now they are simply being described as ‘ultra modern’; it has not been said if there is a test for them or not, but their seizure will let anti-doping officials know what to look for.

The World Anti Doping Agency had previously emphasised that greater cooperation with police and customs forces was an important part of fighting drug use in sport.

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