Criminal investigation opened against ex-Rabobank and Sky doctor Geert Leinders

Controversial doctor who left Sky in October named as overseeing former doping programme at Rabobank

by Simon_MacMichael   February 16, 2013  

road.cc news

Belgian prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation related to doping against the former Rabobank and Team Sky doctor, Geert Leinders, according to Dutch the website of Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad.

It is understood that the probe into the doctor relates to allegations made by riders from his time at Rabobank and not his period at Team Sky, where he worked on a freelance basis from late 2010 until his contract was terminated in October last year.

Last month, Leinders was quizzed by the Belgian Cycling Federation in Brussels as part of its investigation into doping in cycling. Former US Postal, Astana and RadioShack manager Johan Bruyneel was also due to be questioned, but did not appear.

Among former Rabobank riders who have pointed the finger at Leinders as facilitating doping are Danny Nelissen, who has said the doctor procured EPO for him in 1996, and Levi Leipheimer.

The American rider said he in his testimony to the United States Anti-Doping Agency in the Lance Armstrong case that he had bought EPO from Rabobank’s team doctor between 2002 and 2004.

The name was redacted, but NRC has previously said that it has obtained a copy of the unredacted document, which shows Leinders’ name.

It has also claimed that Leinders was involved in the doping programmes of riders including Michael Boogerd, Thomas Dekker, Denis Menchov and Michael Rasmussen.

The doctor left Rabobank in 2009, citing differences with the team’s management, coincidentally after it said it was enforcing a strict anti-doping policy.

Former team manager Theo de Rooij acknowledged that until 2007, doping was tacitly approved on the Rabobank team and specifically by its medical staff.

When it launched in 2010, Sky made the decision to employ doctors not previously involved with the European road scene, in line with its zero tolerance policy towards doping.

That approach changed after the 2010 Vuelta when the team withdrew after the death due to septic shock of soigneur Txema Gonzalez. In the days prior to his death, an unrelated virus laid low several Sky riders.

The team decided it needed doctors on board who were familiar with the specific demands of road racing such as the searing heat experienced in the Vuelta.

During last year’s Tour de France – a race on which Leinders didn’t work for Sky – the team came under pressure to distance itself from him, and said that it had launched an internal investigation.

While Sky insisted in October out that its investigation had found nothing untoward, it said it would not be working with Leinders in future.