1T4i sprinter Marcel Kittel linked by TV show to German blood doping investigation

Young talent named as one of 28 athletes whose blood was subject to 'black light' UV technique

by Simon_MacMichael   January 29, 2012  

Marcel Kittel celebrates his Stage 7 Vuelta win (copyright: Tour of Spain/Graham Watson).jpg

Marcel Kittel, the 23-year-old German sprinter who burst onto the pro scene last year with victories including Stage 7 of the Vuelta and four stages of the Tour of Poland, is one of 28 athletes reported to be involved in a blood doping ring centred around sports physician Dr Andreas Franke of the Olympic Training Centre in Erfurt.

Franke is alleged to have subjected blood he had taken from athletes to ultraviolet light, before returning it to the individual’s body. The technique, also known as black light doping, was formerly practised in the former East Germany.

Along with all other types of non-emergency blood transfusion, the procedure is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Kittel, who rides for the 1T4i team (formerly Skil-Shimano), was today named by the TV programme ARD Sportschau as one the athletes under investigation by the country’s national anti-doping agency, NADA.

Other athletes said to be involved include five-time Winter Olympic champion, the speed skater Claudia Pechstein, who was involved in a lengthy legal battle in the run-up to the 2010 Winter Olympics to have a two-year ban for blood doping overturned.

Pechstein, the first top-level athlete to be banned as a result of abnormal blood values alone, claimed to suffer from anaemia, but was unsuccessful in appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport as well as the Swiss Federal Court.

The 39-year-old has previously said she would like to compete at the London Olympics this summer as a track cyclist.

Also named in today’s TV programme was a 22-year-old Jakob Steigmiller, who rides for German Continental team, Thüringer Energie.

This evening, Iwan Spekenbrink, Kittel's manager at 1T4i, which has a strict anti-doping stance, said that the sprinter had done nothing wrong and the team was standing by him.

Spekenbrink confirmed to Cycling News that Kittel had visited Franke in 2008 when he was ill, as did any German athlete in similar circumstances.

He added that Kittel had not undergone any treatment that was prohibited at the time, and that the team had not been informed of any investigation of the rider by the police, the NADA or the UCI.

9 user comments

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What effect does UV light have on the blood?

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3475 posts]
30th January 2012 - 9:28

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In the interests of fairness:

All German athletes had to report to this Doctor and it is the Doctor who is currently under investigation.

At the time of Kittels visits the UV treatment wasn't banned by WADA.

There is no suggestion from any authority that Kittel has done anything wrong.

posted by Velo_Alex [66 posts]
30th January 2012 - 9:35

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notfastenough wrote:
What effect does UV light have on the blood?

Said to boost oxygen-carrying properties, although there appear to be mixed views about its efficacy. But whether it works or not, the procedure itself is illegal.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8513 posts]
30th January 2012 - 10:25

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Velo_Alex wrote:
At the time of Kittels visits the UV treatment wasn't banned by WADA.

It's not the UV treatment, it's the removing blood and then transfusing it back in that is illegal.

Interesting that all German athletes had to report to this doctor - should they all beunder investigation, or are there particular factors meaning some are targetted?

I like Kittel - he had a good interview in one of the mags (ProCycling I think) and seems to be a guy with great potential. Hope it turns out he hasn't done anything wrong.

posted by step-hent [704 posts]
30th January 2012 - 10:49

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Velo_Alex wrote:
In the interests of fairness:

All German athletes had to report to this Doctor and it is the Doctor who is currently under investigation.

At the time of Kittels visits the UV treatment wasn't banned by WADA.

There is no suggestion from any authority that Kittel has done anything wrong.

We mention that in final two paragraphs with a link to the Cycling News article which has the full quotes.

We would quote 1T4i statement in full, but it was made specifically to Cycling News rather than to the media generally.

That was an update to our original story, which was published a few minutes after 1T4i's reaction (which we had not seen at the time we posted, although we had looked to see if there was anything official on their website/twitter, Dutch press etc. There wasn't).

Like everyone else in cycling, we hope there's nothing more to the story than coincidence, but the fact remains he was named by the German TV show as being linked to the investigation.

The NADA hasn't denied the TV report - indeed this morning it confirmed, without naming names, that 28 athletes are being investigated and that could result in disciplinary proceedings being opened against some of them.

So it would appear that officially, it's not just the doctor under investigation.

However, the NADA hasn't confirmed or denied the identity of the athletes named in the TV programme.

www.nada-bonn.de/aktuelles/news/details/archiv/2012/januar/30/artikel/na...

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8513 posts]
30th January 2012 - 10:55

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I think that the UV treatment is pseudo-science. Most likely effect would be to damage your white cells and impair your immune response.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
30th January 2012 - 11:19

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'What effect does UV light have on the blood?'

It gives it a nice healthy glow. Creosote and orange paint-based fake blood UV products are now available in all good stores for girls from Oldham.

posted by andyp [1077 posts]
30th January 2012 - 11:34

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aaah - another drug story. More cyclists trying to cheat. Gadzooks I'm shocked!

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
30th January 2012 - 17:13

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'It's wearing sunglasses that don't block UV that's done it guv'

antonio

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posted by antonio [1018 posts]
31st January 2012 - 10:38

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