MUSEEUW ADMITS TO MURKY PAST
Former world champion and classics winner Johan Museeuw has been forced to admit he cheated during the final year of his career, and resign from his position as Quick Step's Press Relations officer, after a huge doping scandal hit Belgian cycling following revelations by Flemish newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws.
Cleverly choosing his words, Museeuw did not directly admit to using drugs but talked about making mistakes and racing dishonestly in 2004.
"In my last year of racing, I made an error, I didn't race honestly. I wanted to finish my career in style, which pushed me to not play the game honestly," Museeuw said in a quickly arranged press conference on Tuesday night.
In 2004 Museeuw almost won Paris-Roubaix for a fourth time but a puncture saw him left behind by eventual winner Magnus Backstedt, Tristan Hoffmann and Britain’s Roger Hammond.
According to Museeuw's lawyer, Jozef Lievens, occasional training partner Wouter Vandenhaute sent an email to Jean-Marie Dedecker – a well-known anti-doping crusader - which was leaked to Het Laatste Nieuws.
"Not all the stories which are circulating are correct but what Wouter Vandenhaute wrote in a mail, is correct," Museeuw admitted.
Museeuw was forced to speak after the Het Laatse Nieuws revelations and because a Belgian judge recently decided he will go on trial for possessing EPO and other doping products. He is suspected of being part of a ring of drug traffickers including a veterinary surgeon and three-time world cyclo-cross champion Mario De Clercq and eight other riders.
Museeuw was given a two-year ban by the Belgian Cycling Federation in 2004 for being implicated in the doping affair even though he had already retired from the sport. Museeuw continued to work for the Quick Step team in a public relations role but has now ended all links with the team.
For years the Flemish press have largely ignored the problem of doping in cycling but the Het Laatse Nieuws revelations have created a huge scandal. Under the title of '30 years of doping’ the paper claimed Lefevere used amphetamines when he was a rider in the seventies and knew about doping in the teams he has since managed. The paper claimed they had spoken to several doctors and soigneur still involved in cycling and printed accusations from Lefevere’s former team mate Luca Cappelle and Belgian anti-doping campaigner Jean-Marie Dedecker.
Lefevere immediately denied the accusation and threatened legal action in a statement.
“As a result of an article published in the Het Laatste Nieuws newspaper and retaining it to be without foundation and extremely detrimental to both my personal and professional image, that of the people that currently work or that have worked with me during the past years, I'd like to announce that I have contacted my lawyer in order to act against the authors of the above said article with the objective of defending my rights,” the statement said.
During his press conference Museeuw commented on the Lefevere accusations, calling it, "a new sad highlight," and admitting he was involved.
"I realise that I added to all of this. I did things that weren't appropriate. I'll keep fighting for a clean sport but I can't put right what has been done," Museeuw said.