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Fresh Doping Allegations Cast Cloud Over Team Sky

Team Sky has faced fresh embarrassment from their employment of Geert Leinders after more revelations about doping practices of the doctor were surfaced.

Thomas Dekker, the former Rabobank rider, sets out the scale of performance enhancing drug use in the Dutch cycling team. Dekker noted the active involvement of Leinders who later became the medical consultant of Team Sky between 2010 and 2012.

Dekker remarked Leinders is said to have knowingly administered a banned drug for stimulating the production of cortisone. It was also claimed that Leinders advised using a saline drip for covering up a high level of red blood cells caused by abuse of erythropoietin (EPO). The former Rabobank rider also alleged that the Rabobank team used to falsify medical conditions to permit riders to make use of cortisone for losing weight. Dekker termed the system of therapeutic use exemptions "a sham".

Dekker had in the past accused Jan Mathieu, the former Silence-Lotto doctor, of giving him cortisone injections with forged medical certificates. The Dutchman rode for Silence-Lotto for the first half of the 2009 season before the team sacked him following a re-test of a 2007 sample resulted positive for Erythropoietin. Dekker was subsequently given a ban from January 2009 to the beginning of 2011. The former cyclist later admitted to doping throughout his career and said it was “a way of life” at the team.

In 2015, the United States Anti-Doping Agency banned Geert Leinders for life. Leinders was the Chief Team Doctor and a member of the Board of Directors for the Rabobank professional cycling team. It was found by a three member panel of the American Arbitration Association North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (AAA) that Leinders possessed, trafficked, and administered banned performance enhancing substances and methods without any legitimate medical need, including erythropoietin, blood transfusion paraphernalia, testosterone, insulin, DHEA, LH, and corticosteroids to athletes under his care. It was also found that Leinders was complicit in other anti-doping rule violations.

The panel also remarked Leinders occupied even higher positions of trust and responsibility than other athlete support personnel, including trainers, coaches and team physicians, who have been sanctioned in the past due to their involvement in doping conspiracies and therefore a lifetime period of ineligibility was justified. Leinders is and will be prohibited from training or advising athletes and participating at any event sanctioned by USA Cycling, the International Cycling Union (UCI), or any other WADA Code signatory.

United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis T. Tygart had then remarked that it shocks the conscience that a Board member and team doctor would abuse his trusted position by overseeing and participating in this type of dangerous and fraudulent activity. Tygart had also commented that this case also demonstrates the global commitment of independent anti-doping organizations to ensuring that those who break the rules in an attempt to win and to profit from their cheating are held accountable.

Leinders was employed for 80 days a year by Team Sky. Retired rider Bradley Wiggins had claimed in the past that Leinders had no role with his controversial injections of a corticosteroid before grand Tours in 2011, 2012, and 2013.

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Albert Wolfgang
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