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In Blood Stepped: The History Of Blood Doping In Sport

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08 Sep 2016 14:57

With regard to Joop Zoetemelk’s transfusions in 1976, and his decision not to transfuse in 1977. The former first. What does that story tell us?

1) We know the where and the when of it. Paris, Divonne-les-Bains and (possibly) Port Bacares. That’s just ahead of the start of the race, on the first rest day (between stages 8 and 9), and (possibly) on the second rest day (between stages 11 and 12). That’s pretty much in line with the c21st practice: ahead of the race and on the rest days. It also raises yet another question mark over why Felice Gimondi was doing his (alleged) transfusion before the end of the first week of the race, if the ‘75 Tour story is to be believed (and not the ‘73 Worlds one).

2) We can (I think) deduce that it wasn’t Zoetemelk’s own blood, that it must have been someone else’s. I’ve only watched occasional episodes of House so I’m no expert but I don’t think it would be normal to treat anaemia by extracting the patient’s own blood and then reinfusing it (please correct me) and Zoetemelk has said he was using transfusions to treat anaemia, which arose as a consequence of a 1974 crash. (With regard to the suggestion he was using transfusions to treat a saddle sore, I’ve no idea what to make of that – was that a full transfusion or an injection of red cells into the area of the wound, a treatment that is still en vogue today?)

3) We can – if we can believe the athlete himself and there is much debate as to whether we can ever believe the athlete, for some it’s a case of only believe when it suits your position – say that, for Zoetemelk, the transfusion was effective. He won more stages in the ‘76 Tour that he normally did – three, stages 9 and 10 (immediately after the second transfusion) and stage 20 (the pre-penultimate days’ assault on the Puy de Dôme) – and said himself that he felt the treatment was effective. Can we conclude that for other Tour riders – Freddy Maertens, Giovanni Battaglin, Hennie Kuiper, Miguel-Maria Lasa, Aldo Parecchini, Jacques Eclassan, José-Luis Viejo, Raymond Delisle, Willy Teirlinck, Wladimiro Panizza, Michel Pollentier, Ferdinand Bracke, Gerben Karstens, Hubert Mathis, to name just the 1976 Tour’s stage winners – this we equally be true? The scientific papers of the period disagree. And Zoetemelk was being treated for anaemia, while we don’t know if any of those others had similar underlying medical problems. So we can not conclude that Zoetemelk’s treatment would have resulted in a performance gain for others.

4) The scientific papers of the time indicate differences of opinion over the correct amount of blood to transfuse. We don’t know how much blood Zoetemelk transfused. Nor do we know what he actually used: the cheap and cheerful wholeblood package or the deluxe red cells treatment.

5) We know that transfusions today are a lot easier than they were 40 years ago but tend to forget just how complicated the logistics then would have been. Did Zoetemelk have to visit hospitals in Paris, Divonne-les-Bains and Port Bacares or was it, like the apocryphal Felice Gimondi story and our modern perception of the practice, all done in a hotel room? Where did the blood come from, was it legitimately sourced by the doctor, Fucs, or was it acquired less legally? If legit, was it sourced locally or did it have to be flown in from the Netherlands? This leads into the next point.

6) How expensive was the whole procedure? Those stage wins would have helped Zoetemelk’s earning power on the critérium circuit (as would Felice Gimondi winning the rainbow jersey in ‘73 but probably not one measly stage win in ‘75, whichever of the two you want to believe, if you want to believe either). But would that have been enough to offset Zoetemelk’s costs? We know nothing about the expense of the procedure. And we have to remember that, as the ‘70s wore on and the Oil Crisis bit - and the Cannibal bit - cycling was squeezed more and more. You have a situation in ‘76 where other teams collaborated to allow one team to win a Tour stage in order to try and keep the sponsor in the game. You have the Vuelta and the Tour struggling to find a full field. The riders weren’t exactly coining it in. We assume Zoetemelk stopped transfusing because he was morto over the Virén story, but he might just as easily have stopped because he couldn’t afford it in ‘77.
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Re: Re:

08 Sep 2016 15:20

meat puppet wrote:
buckle wrote:I understand that the Finns discovered a genuinely mutant Biathlete and got on to blood doping through that. As for Italy, is it a coincidence that Coe ran his silly 800 WR there?

A small correction: If you are referring to Eero Mäntyranta, as I think you are, he was an XC guy. Anyway, he had a 200+ HB due to a genetic mutation. Busted for amphetamine and admitted use of hormones.

However, I don't know if the idea of blood doping came from his values.


Thanks. I saw a lecture where he was mentioned and couldn't remember his sport.
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Re:

08 Sep 2016 15:51

fmk_RoI wrote:With regard to Joop Zoetemelk’s transfusions in 1976, and his decision not to transfuse in 1977.

Did Zoetemelk ever say he didn't transfuse in 77?

As for his anemia, bear in mind that at least in the 80s anemia was used as a pretext for blood boosting.
Sort of like asthma now.
I'm not saying he didn't really have anemia. Just that there is reason to be cautious about the claim.
That said, it's still a good point about his 76 transfusions orobably being homologous if it was to treat his anemia.


if we can believe the athlete himself and there is much debate as to whether we can ever believe the athlete, for some it’s a case of only believe when it suits your position
tbh, that argument is mostly used as a deflection (most frequent for instance in the Sky threads).
Meanwhile you're missing the key issue: motivation.
Certain statements from the horse's mouth are simply likely to be true because there's no obvious motivation to lie about it (e.g. Zoetemelk talking about the transfusion and suggesting it was effective, etc.).
For the reverse reason, certain statements from the horse's mouth obviously warrant (much) more caution/skepsis. Here we can take any random 'clean cycling' statement as a case in point.

The point being: if Zoetemelk ever said he didn't transfuse in 77, bear in mind he may have had a motivation to say so. (E.g. maybe he received criticism over the transfusions in 76, or maybe Fucs told him to keep schtumm)

(as would Felice Gimondi winning the rainbow jersey in ‘73 but probably not one measly stage win in ‘75, whichever of the two you want to believe, if you want to believe either).
It's not about believing or not believing. It's about not dismissing it as a myth.
Last edited by sniper on 08 Sep 2016 16:03, edited 1 time in total.
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Re:

08 Sep 2016 15:59

Tienus wrote:I searched a bit more in old Dutch newspapers and found some interesting stuff.

Before the 72 olympics there was a special about the games in a magazine (Nieuwe Revu 19-08-1972). I have not found the magazine article but the advertisement of the magazine can be found in several newspapers and states:
By estemation half of the athletes is using doping: The newest and undetectable method is an overdose of blood.
http://www.delpher.nl/nl/kranten/view?query=%28bloed+doping%29&page=3&cql%5B%5D=%28date+_gte_+%2201-01-1618%22%29&cql%5B%5D=%28date+_lte_+%2231-12-1976%22%29&coll=ddd&identifier=ddd%3A011197350%3Ampeg21%3Aa0008&resultsidentifier=ddd%3A011197350%3Ampeg21%3Aa0008

In an interview with Jos Hermens after the 72 olympics he also explains the method.
http://www.delpher.nl/nl/kranten/view?query=%28bloed+doping%29&page=14&cql%5B%5D=%28date+_gte_+%2201-01-1618%22%29&cql%5B%5D=%28date+_lte_+%2231-12-1976%22%29&coll=ddd&identifier=ddd%3A010556271%3Ampeg21%3Aa0289&resultsidentifier=ddd%3A010556271%3Ampeg21%3Aa0289

If I'm correct both those articles where written before the Ekblom study was published.

In 75 there is an article about doping with autologous blood transfusion. The article claims that with the techniques of that time the blood could be stored for years.
http://www.delpher.nl/nl/kranten/view?query=%28bloed+doping%29&page=2&cql%5B%5D=%28date+_gte_+%2201-01-1618%22%29&cql%5B%5D=%28date+_lte_+%2231-12-1976%22%29&coll=ddd&identifier=ddd%3A010619946%3Ampeg21%3Aa0360&resultsidentifier=ddd%3A010619946%3Ampeg21%3Aa0360

The following two articles are written during the 76 games. Jos Hermens knows Viren has been at altitude during the winter months in both Kenia and Columbia. He accuses him of creating a blood supply for the games. He wonders how Viren could afford those expensive trips. Viren does not explain how he paid for it but does mention he got unpaid leave from his job.
http://www.delpher.nl/nl/kranten/view?query=%28bloed+doping%29&page=6&cql%5B%5D=%28date+_gte_+%2201-01-1618%22%29&cql%5B%5D=%28date+_lte_+%2231-12-1976%22%29&coll=ddd&identifier=ddd%3A011017610%3Ampeg21%3Aa0295&resultsidentifier=ddd%3A011017610%3Ampeg21%3Aa0295
http://www.delpher.nl/nl/kranten/view?query=%28bloed+doping%29&page=6&cql%5B%5D=%28date+_gte_+%2201-01-1618%22%29&cql%5B%5D=%28date+_lte_+%2231-12-1976%22%29&coll=ddd&identifier=ddd%3A011199154%3Ampeg21%3Aa0113&resultsidentifier=ddd%3A011199154%3Ampeg21%3Aa0113

Really exciting, well done.

Lol at Jos Hermens there.
Has any journalist ever confronted him with this? Of course not.
For those who don't know him, Hermens is, and has been for more than a decade, a prominent coach/figure in Dutch Olympic sports scene (particularly t&f, if i'm not mistaken). He's also related to recent 'research' that shows EPO doesn't work.
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08 Sep 2016 16:11

Ironicly Hermens is also the manager of many world class athletes who like Viren train at altitude in Kenya.
http://www.globalsportscommunication.nl/athletes/most-successful-athletes/

Hermens also got furious when another Dutch athlete manager wrote a book and outed many dopers. Its a must read if you understand Dutch.
Raymond de Vries, Opkomst en ondergang van een ongelooflijk stomme zak
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Re: Re:

08 Sep 2016 16:21

sniper wrote:Really exciting, well done.

Lol at Jos Hermens there.
Has any journalist ever confronted him with this? Of course not.
For those who don't know him, Hermens is, and has been for more than a decade, a prominent coach/figure in Dutch Olympic sports scene (particularly t&f, if i'm not mistaken). He's also related to recent 'research' that shows EPO doesn't work.

One Finnish athletics history book claims that Jos Hermens retracted his accusations shortly after the 1976 games, but his change of heart didn't last for long. I've seen news items from recent decades where he accused Viren of blood doping, some of which were even published in the Finnish media.

Hermens wasn't the only participant who was whining and crying about Viren's performances at Montreal. There could even be a good reason for him to be disappointed. Whereas Viren peaked in the Olympic Games, Hermens underperformed heavily. The Dutchman had set the new hour run world record only two months earlier without even a pacemaker, but failed both at 10000 meters (being 10th) and at marathon (25th).
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08 Sep 2016 16:27

The Dutchman had set the new hour run world record only two months earlier without even a pacemaker


Interesting as I posted a link today which shows that Hermens new in 1972 exactly how the transfusions worked.
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Re:

08 Sep 2016 17:12

Before anyone jumps to conclusions about the life of frozen blood, please read up on the subject, both the process and - most importantly - the cost.

If you want to be particularly lazy and just look to c21st data - Fuentes and Siberia are a good starting point.
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Re: In Blood Stepped: The History Of Blood Doping In Sport

08 Sep 2016 17:59

ClassicomanoLuigi wrote:The title of the thread brings to mind the German documentary film series "Blut und Spiele" (Blood and Sports).
This does not necessarily fill in missing details from the early history of cycling. Rather, it is an accessible history of blood doping in athletics and cycling from about 1985 - 2007. The Clinicians will find this "entertaining" in that it features interviews with an all-star cast of familiar characters: Jaschke, Manzano, Frankie & Betsy, Pound and McQuaid, Walsh, et al. And of particular relevance to the thread, Werner Franke on the origins of detection methods for EPO and transfusions for blood manipulation.
To save time, summarise what it says about transfusions in cycling in the 1980s please.
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08 Sep 2016 18:41

Good posts upthread, aragon.

On a lighter note, Arthur Lydiard (in Run: the Lydiard way) attacks the notion of Finns and/or Viren in particular blood doping, in my view "rudely but not convincingly". Lydiard coached runners in Finland during the late 1960s. Is Lydiard commonly connected with blood doping?

The section about AL's Finnish experience in the book contains some priceless mis-spellings of names such as Pentekavoone and Uka Kahu.
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Re: In Blood Stepped: The History Of Blood Doping In Sport

09 Sep 2016 03:49

To save time, summarise what it says about transfusions in cycling in the 1980s please.

Werner Franke's work in cell biology related to blood transfusions and erythropoetin is of interest. His study of blood doping and antidoping from the 1980's on. He was the one who exposed systematic doping in East German athletics. I believe he had the proof around 1990, and went public with it in 1991.

As for the blood, specifically, while the testing methods lagged behind the increasing use of blood transfusions in the 1990's, he was on the forefront of the science. He developed EPO testing. And in the late 1990s - 2000's he intervened against blood doping in cycling.

Key figure who is not mentioned in the articles, nor anywhere in this thread.

Here is Google cache of articles involving Werner Franke on cyclingnews.com
https://www.google.com/search?q=%22werner+franke%22+site%3Acyclingnews.com

And lots of earlier information can easily be found online.

One of the questions raised by the thread was about : what happened during the murky period of late 1980s - early 1990s with the emergence of EPO ?
Franke's work coincides with that.
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Re: Re:

09 Sep 2016 04:38

Aragon wrote:
sniper wrote:Really exciting, well done.

Lol at Jos Hermens there.
Has any journalist ever confronted him with this? Of course not.
For those who don't know him, Hermens is, and has been for more than a decade, a prominent coach/figure in Dutch Olympic sports scene (particularly t&f, if i'm not mistaken). He's also related to recent 'research' that shows EPO doesn't work.

One Finnish athletics history book claims that Jos Hermens retracted his accusations shortly after the 1976 games, but his change of heart didn't last for long. I've seen news items from recent decades where he accused Viren of blood doping, some of which were even published in the Finnish media.

Hermens wasn't the only participant who was whining and crying about Viren's performances at Montreal. There could even be a good reason for him to be disappointed. Whereas Viren peaked in the Olympic Games, Hermens underperformed heavily. The Dutchman had set the new hour run world record only two months earlier without even a pacemaker, but failed both at 10000 meters (being 10th) and at marathon (25th).


Quax (silver in the 5k) and also Brendan Foster (3rd and 5th in the double) complained. I had no idea that Hermens was a possible source of the rumours. Foster changed his tune once he entered broadcasting. My own understanding (challenged above) is that the Finns stumbled upon blood doping when studying a medal winning XC skier. The challenger suggests that said champion was in reality a walking cocktail of high hemetacrit levels, testosterone and amphetamines.
Last edited by buckle on 09 Sep 2016 07:12, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: In Blood Stepped: The History Of Blood Doping In Sport

09 Sep 2016 05:06

ClassicomanoLuigi wrote:
To save time, summarise what it says about transfusions in cycling in the 1980s please.

Werner Franke's work in cell biology related to blood transfusions and erythropoetin is of interest. His study of blood doping and antidoping from the 1980's on. He was the one who exposed systematic doping in East German athletics. I believe he had the proof around 1990, and went public with it in 1991.

As for the blood, specifically, while the testing methods lagged behind the increasing use of blood transfusions in the 1990's, he was on the forefront of the science. He developed EPO testing. And in the late 1990s - 2000's he intervened against blood doping in cycling.

Key figure who is not mentioned in the articles, nor anywhere in this thread.

Here is Google cache of articles involving Werner Franke on cyclingnews.com
https://www.google.com/search?q=%22werner+franke%22+site%3Acyclingnews.com

And lots of earlier information can easily be found online.

One of the questions raised by the thread was about : what happened during the murky period of late 1980s - early 1990s with the emergence of EPO ?
Franke's work coincides with that.


Franke's work on the GDR was limited to studying PHDs as the STASI did a pretty good job at destroying evidence. It is estimated that 5000 East German coaches disappeared after 1989 many gaining employment in the West. Of course this really means nobody knows how many are here? A few names crop up like Heiko Salzwedel but very little is known about him.

As a footnote to Werner Franke's work. He does this almost as a hobby and does not seem part of the Anti-Doping Industrial Complex which remains in denial about its own inefficacy.
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09 Sep 2016 08:03

@FMK
I will try and answer some of your points on Zoetemelk with info from old Dutch newspaper articles.

Zoetemelk seems open and honest when he talks to the journalists but there are many inconsistencies.
We dont know if the 76 transfusion was Zoetemelk's first or last. He only made a statement before the 77 tour that he would not do it again.

During the 71 tour he also had a newspaper confession. Its for the use of cortisone although in the article he talks about vitamines.
http://www.delpher.nl/nl/kranten/view?query=zoetemelk+vitamine&coll=ddd&identifier=ddd%3A011235875%3Ampeg21%3Aa0055&resultsidentifier=ddd%3A011235875%3Ampeg21%3Aa0055
short summary:
He is not happy with his shape and is hoping for recovery but instead he is getting weaker. He knows his competitors would have got medical support in his case. He makes his doctor contact dr Rolink who prescribes him vitamines (we now know dr Rolink got him a TUE for cortisone).

The 76 transfusion confession article:
http://www.delpher.nl/nl/kranten/view?query=zoetemelk+bloed&page=2&coll=ddd&identifier=ddd%3A010959274%3Ampeg21%3Aa0175&resultsidentifier=ddd%3A010959274%3Ampeg21%3Aa0175
I'm a GT rider. The performance curve of a GT rider will go up towards the end of a tour. In my case it was the opposite, I started excellent and was getting in worse shape towards the end.
About the 74 accident and hospital treatment:
They (hospital doktors after the 74 crash) heal sick people but dont work on the top shape of a rider. I decided to work on this myself. I got in contact with dr Fucs, a type of sports doktor like Rolink.

According to the article:
Its dr Fucs who diagnosis the anaemia. He gets the first transfusion in Paris the day before he travels to the tour. The second one was on the rest day divonne- les-bains. If nescessary he will get another visit on the rest day Port Bacares.
This article from the same tour is talking about his saddle sore:
http://www.delpher.nl/nl/kranten/view?query=kliniek+merckx&page=1&coll=ddd&identifier=ddd%3A010376057%3Ampeg21%3Aa0109&resultsidentifier=ddd%3A010376057%3Ampeg21%3Aa0109
He visited the hospital in Auch on tuesday morning before he rode the ITT. After the ITT he visited the hospital again to treat new areas.
An interview a year later about the transfusions:
http://leiden.courant.nu/issue/LLC/1977-07-25/edition/0/page/11?query=Werk%20Groep%20Buurthuis&sort=relevance
I had a severe saddle sore. A doctor was consulted and he adviced me a transfusion which would make the saddle sore dissapaer in two days.

They where homologe transfusions with blood from a bloodbank according to the book: Joop Zoetemelk: Een open boek. Jacob Bergsma, Joop Holthausen en Peter Ouwerkerk.
http://endurancesupport.com/joop-zoetemelk-en-de-tijdgeest/
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09 Sep 2016 10:49

interesting article a.o. about ozon therapy among East German athletes (particularly rowers) since 1972:
http://www.nzz.ch/article80QSR-1.378004
In den Akten der ermittelnden Zentralen Arbeitsgruppe Geheimnisschutz (ZAGG) des MfS (Ministerium für Staatssicherheit) wird ausdrücklich festgehalten, «ohne Genehmigung des DRSV (DDR- Ruderverband)» sei im Rudern eine «Oxidations- Forschung» betrieben worden. Beteiligt waren einer der 15 DDR-Bezirkssportärzte und ein hauptamtlicher Rudertrainer im Klub.
Dazu kam ein ausserhalb des Sportsystems stehender Arzt - er war in einem vier Autostunden entfernten Berliner Krankenhaus tätig und unterstützte das Blutdoping von der medizinischen Seite: Blutentnahme, UV-Bestrahlung und Sauerstoffdurchflutung, Rücktransfusion in die Sportlervenen.



On a side, the article contains other interesting soundbites about earlier decades of doping, such as
In 1983 HGH was being tested there [Forschungsinstituts für Körperkultur und Sport (FKS)] on a cyclist - without his knowledge
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09 Sep 2016 10:59

There is a study from Scarpino (1990) suggesting that in Italy at the time blood doping was nearly as common as steroids and amphetamines.
See statistics on left hand side of second page:
http://ac.els-cdn.com/0140673690925029/1-s2.0-0140673690925029-main.pdf?_tid=afddf628-767c-11e6-8d38-00000aacb35d&acdnat=1473419038_a918b58e068d5fdfa067023bd4c68b8e
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09 Sep 2016 11:12

Not uninteresting to check the medal table for speed skating at the 1980 winter olympics in Lake Placid, where Heiden did his quintet, Norwegian skaters being his main victims, in addition to Dutch, Russian and East German skaters.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_skating_at_the_1980_Winter_Olympics
Here a good background piece about Heiden and the uniqueness of his performance in 1980:
http://www.zeit.de/1980/09/der-mann-der-kein-star-sein-will/seite-2
A.o. it says where the Soviets had a pool of half a million iceskaters, the US had only 4000.

I havent seen Norway mentioned in the thread.
Was Norway in touch with the developments of the time?
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Re: In Blood Stepped: The History Of Blood Doping In Sport

09 Sep 2016 12:29

ClassicomanoLuigi wrote:As for the blood, specifically, while the testing methods lagged behind the increasing use of blood transfusions in the 1990's, he was on the forefront of the science. He developed EPO testing. And in the late 1990s - 2000's he intervened against blood doping in cycling.
Is anything actually said about the use of transfusions in the 1980s?

We have the Moser (road) stories, we have the PDM story. And while there is no hard evidence on this, my own feeling is the use of transfusions in the 80s was a lot more widespread than that (senior riders at big teams for big occasions - you still had cost/logistics issues to overcome meaning it was not for all, unlike EPO). But is there any evidence in that German TV programme or is it just the well trodden story of EPO (well trodden, apart from the detail on EPO's earliest years in the peloton)? Does it, for instance, say when transfusions stopped, a specific time frame and not just the usual vague "in the early 1990s"?

With regard to the 90s, does it talk about when transfusions returned? Again, the well trodden EPO story doesn't interest me here, not unless it's got something new to say, it's the use of transfusions I'm interested in.
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Re:

09 Sep 2016 12:32

Tienus wrote:@FMK
I will try and answer some of your points on Zoetemelk with info from old Dutch newspaper articles.
BTW, I finally got round to looking out my copy of the Friebe Merckx biog, which you somehow thought was my sole source for the Z story. As I suspected, but didn't want to say earlier without checking, Friebe couldn't have been the source: he says Z transfused in 75 and stopped in 76. How you confused what I said with that I don't know.
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Re:

09 Sep 2016 12:35

Tienus wrote:During the 71 tour he also had a newspaper confession. Its for the use of cortisone although in the article he talks about vitamines.
http://www.delpher.nl/nl/kranten/view?query=zoetemelk+vitamine&coll=ddd&identifier=ddd%3A011235875%3Ampeg21%3Aa0055&resultsidentifier=ddd%3A011235875%3Ampeg21%3Aa0055
Honestly, that Z doped is hardly news. Off the top of my head I can't think of a Tour winner who failed more tests more often. And he has the dubious honour of having still finished on the podium one year despite having failed a test and suffered the then customary 10-minute time penalty.
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