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Germany

Doping Widespread at Team Telekom, Report Suggests

The Telekom cycling team and its now defunct successor T-Mobile were "probably" involved in systematic doping for over a decade, a University Clinic Freiburg external investigation commission claimed Thursday, March 20.

The T-Mobile team led by Jan Ullrich of Germany, left, wave on the podium after they won the best team ranking of the Tour de France cycling race, after the final stage between Montereau and Paris Sunday, July 25, 2004

Team Telekom, seen here in 2004, is accused of illegal doping over a 13-year period

Three experts -- lawyer Hans-Joachim Schaefer, biomechanics expert Wilhelm Schaenzer and pharmacologist Ulrich Schwabe -- produced their findings after nearly a year of work.

"Having taken into account the information available to date, it appears conclusive to the commission that from 1993 until 2006 cyclists with Team Telekom and T-Mobile were doped by doctors attached to the sport medicine department," the commission said in a statement on the university's website.

"Even if there have been no admissions from cyclists during the period between 2001 and 2005, the commission believes it is probable there were doping operations during this time," said the report.

"There is not only the evidence of payments received by the doctors from the cyclist team, but also paperwork for fictitious patients."

Two T-Mobile doctors from the Freiburg clinic, Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich, were sacked last year over their involvement in the distribution of illegal substances and methods and several riders also admitted to substance abuse in the 1990s, including 1996 Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis.

Prosecutors in the federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg where Freiburg is located confirmed Thursday that charges had been laid against Schmid and Heinrich with the Freiburg Labor Court.

More doctors named in doping report

Urine samples are prepared for testing on the blood-booster EPO, in the Swiss Laboratory for Analysis of Doping, LAD

The doctors may have administered the blood booster EPO

The two doctors are accused of carrying out tasks different to those which they were contracted and paid to do. The pair admitted last May that they had helped individual professional cyclists to dope.

The commission has also revealed two other doctors, in addition to Heinrich and Schmid, are also heavily suspected of doping operations and both are no longer employed by the clinic.

"Andreas Blum and Stefan Vogt also received payments for doping practices," said the report.

"It is frightening that physicians worked with criminal energy and made lots of money. That is unethical," the clinic's chairman, Matthias Brandis, told German agency SID.

Researchers promise further revelations

"This is only the beginning," said Hans-Joachim Schaefer. "There are other details which we want to shed light on. I have some sympathy for the cyclists. They had to integrate themselves in a team where there were perfect examples of doping going on."

The German Cycling Federation (BDR) has already asked for more information and is likely to take action.

Patrik Sinkewitz

Sinkewitz had his ban reduced by cooperating

The report sheds light on the doping practices of Team T-Mobile -- which changed its name from Team Telekom in 2004 only for German telecommunications firm Deutsche Telekom to withdraw their sponsorship at the end of last year. The team is now called High Road and is based in the US.

Earlier this month, German T-Mobile cyclist Patrick Sinkewitz implicated other as yet unnamed riders in an ongoing doping probe by German authorities. Sinkewitz was caught for testosterone abuse last year, but only received a one-year ban as a he agreed to be act as a witness.Former Telekom riders Rolf Aldag, Erik Zabel, Bert Dietz, Joerg Jak, Christian Henn and Sinkewitz were all questioned by the inquiry.

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