The knock-on effect of the Lance Armstrong cycling scandal continues to be felt in the Netherlands, with the NRC reporting on Saturday that doping was widespread in the professional cycling team sponsored by Rabobank.
The paper says the team used doping as soon as it was formed in 1996. The paper bases its claim on conversations with ‘dozens’ of insiders.
One rider told the paper the team manager Jan Raas called the best cyclists together after a disastrous spring campaign.
Tour de France
‘That was the first time the word epo was used,’ the source said. Many Rabo riders used epo for the first time during the 1996 Tour de France, he told the paper.
Epo is a hormone which can be used to enhance physical performance, particularly in physically-demanding sports.
Rabobank last year decided to stop sponsoring professional men’s cycling because of the drug allegations.
The paper’s coverage of the scandal also includes an interview with Thomas Dekker, seen at the time as a great Rabo team talent. Dekker told the paper he started using epo in 2006, with the help of the team’s doctor. He later moved to blood doping, also carried out under the supervision of team medical staff.
Dekker was banned for doping for two years from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2011. He now cycles for the Garmin Sharp team.