Quick Step’s Johann Museeuw to stand trial

January 17, 2007

Former world champion Johann Museeuw will finally come to trial in the later half of 2007. He, and several others, are charged with possessing and using EPO and other drugs provided by a local veterinarian. Yesterday, the accused lost their final appeal that would have avoided a trial.

Upon his retirement a few years ago as a Lefevre rider, Museeuw was hired by Patrick Lefevre as a PR representative and continues to remain involved with Patrick as he serves his suspension for doping. I find Lefevre’s silence and continued support of Johann the ultimate hypocrisy. Let’s examine a little of Patrick’s past:

In April 1999, local police authorities in Kortrijk (Belgium) arrested the then Mapei-Quick Step manager Patrick Lefèvre and six riders for questioning after security police opened a DHL package at Brussels airport. This package contained a video cassette box with 5 ampules of an unknown substance which came from Italy and was to be sent to the Mapei hotel in De Panne.

October 2000, Richard Virenque suspended for admitting his involvement in the Festina affair after stalling for two years.

2001 Lefevere starts new team, Quick-Step and recruits Johann Museeuw, Frank Vandenbroucke, and Richard Virenque.

February 2002, Police seize “forbidden products” in Vandenbroucke’s house. He is suspended for six months but wins on a technicality that argued the Belgian Cycling Federation did not have the authority to suspend him. He is then suspended by the Flemish authority. He continues to race for Lefevre outside of Flanders.

September 2003 Johan Museeuw questioned by police in Brugge in relation to raids carried out on 21 houses in West Flanders. Museeuw’s house was one of six riders’ houses to be targeted by police, who are investigating the possible supply of doping products to cyclists by veterinarian, José Landuyt.

Late 2003 – Early 2004 More info comes out on Johann Museeuw like this released SMS transcript between Johann and Landuyt. “Wasps” is a code name for Amgen’s EPO product Aranesp:

In a message to Museeuw dated July 7, 2003, Landuyt wrote, “Now you should take 80 to 100 wasps, and upon departure on July 9, minimum 40 and maximum 60, then you will be clean as of July 19.”

On July 27, Museeuw sent a message to Landuyt saying: “I have 52”, to which Landuyt responded “Take salt and drink a lot.” One day later, Landuyt again received an SMS from Museeuw that said “Still 52”, to which he replied, “Snuff salt and drink a lot.”

April 2004 Museeuw retires after riding one more Paris-Roubaix finishing 5th.

April 2004 Immediatly after retiring, Museeuw hired as Director of Public Relations by Lefevere.

October 2004 Museeuw suspended from any involvement in cycling for two years.

November 2004 Lefevre still backs Museeuw calling the suspension “symbolic” and citing their long relationship. Also stated is Levevre’s desire to have Museeuw backfill him as head of Quick-Step. I guess to be a positive influence on young riders.

August 2006 Lefevere suggests that legal action should be taken Floyd Landis for “setting the sport back 20 years.”

October 2006, Lefevre states “the last clean winner of the Tour de France was Jan Ullrich, in 1997.”

December 2006, the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) led by Patrick Lefevre excludes Discovery Channel from it’s group. The reason is they are involved with a rider (Basso) who is suspected of being involved in Operation Puerto.

Let’s pause. What if Lefevre got religion earlier in his career when talented riders, who were actually convicted of doping, were riding on his team? Would Vandenbroucke have continued his downward spiral? What would have happened to Richard Virenque’s resurgence in popularity? Would Johan Museeuw have become Johann Museeuw, The Lion of Flanders?

You are either against cheating or you turn a blind eye. You can’t be firmly against doping by your competitors only. Stop hiding Museeuw behind your anti-doping soap box.