Doping among cyclists investigated
7 June 2007
BRUSSELS (AP) – Police detained 13 people for questioning Thursday after seizing banned substances during raids on homes of cyclists and their associates, justice officials said. The manager of the Quick Step-Innergetic team confirmed that a member of the team’s medical staff had been targeted.
Tom Janssens a spokesman from the state prosecutor’s office, said the early morning raids were carried out in 10 locations across Belgium. He refused to name any of the people taken in for questioning or their team.
“There were important amounts of banned products found,” he told a news conference in the western town of Kortrijk.
Speaking later by telephone to The Associated Press, Janssens said prosecutors had yet to decide whether to press charges against any of those held.
Patrick Lefevere, manager of the Quick-Step-Innergetic team, which includes former world champion Tom Boonen, told VRT television that one member of the QSI medical team had been questioned by police. Other media reported that the team member was an aide to Boonen.
The team has frequently faced doping allegations, but has denied any wrongdoing. “I think we have nothing to worry about,” Wilfried Peeters, the team’s sporting director, was quoted as saying on the Web site of La Derniere Heure newspaper.
Janssens said police had been investigating allegations for months against certain cyclists and people who they suspect of dealing doping substances to cycling teams.
Pat McQuaid, the head of the International Cycling Union, said details about the raid were “sketchy,” but it showed the fight against doping was making headway.
“The cyclists need to get this into their heads that it is no longer an a-sample positive and a b-sample positive which gets you caught on drugs – there are lots of other ways … including police action,” McQuaid said.
The raids come after Lefevere issued lawsuits in January against a newspaper, journalists and Belgian lawmaker Jean-Marie Dedecker for alleging that the team was involved in doping.
Dedecker forwarded information from unnamed sources to judicial authorities which led to the police investigation and Thursday’s raids.
[Copyright AP 2007]
Subject: Belgian news