If no one else will, I'll open it... he always rode the Tour clean???
“In 1996 I won a stage in the Tour de France, but after that race I didn’t move forward. Because of that stage win there were many eyes on me and more was expected of me,” he explained to De Telegraaf. “The fear that I could not fulfil those expectations began to dominate. I knew that EPO was the panacea. That many in the pack used it, that it was not traceable in controls and that it was readily available.
“During a training period in the winter of 1997, I first used EPO. It was not like I immediately thought that there was an engine on my bike, but in subsequent races I felt the difference uphill.”
Boogerd rationalised that decision, saying to himself that this is what professional cycling was about. “That I was more willing to do everything to become a good cyclist. I didn’t find it tough and I’ve never really seen it as something wrong.”
In the interview, Boogerd admits using cortisone and blood transfusions and, after repeated denials, has now accepted that he was indeed a client of the Humanplasma blood bank run by Stefan Matschiner.
However even though he made a lot of money from the sport and from his use of banned substances, he insists that he was a victim of the system. Because of that, he said that he won’t name names. “I’m owning up to the mistakes that I’ve made,” he said. “I am responsible for my decision to use doping and don’t want my mistakes to be on someone else. I possibly risk a heavier penalty. However, I am no traitor and love my principles.”
Talking about what prompted him to finally change his tune, the 40 year old ex pro explained that an encounter last Saturday at a football match was the tipping point. He said that an eight year old boy spoke to him and that his words were difficult to hear. “Hey Michael. I saw you yesterday in the newspaper. You have used doping, eh,” he relates the boy as saying, in front of Boogerd’s own son.
“I could have fallen to the ground,” he said, upon seeing his son’s reaction. “This confrontation was very painful. For me it was the umpteenth time I understood that I had to make a clean sweep. That the story must be told, so I can continue without that lie in my life.”
However Boogerd appears yet to be unwilling to fully embrace the truth, telling NOS Sport in a TV interview to be aired tonight that while he may have doped at certain points, that he never took substances during cycling’s biggest race. “It was in periods…usually periods of training in preparation for competitions,” he said, adding “I have always ridden the Tour clean.”