A part-time soigneur with American squad BMC Racing was arrested Monday in connection with an 18-month investigation into performance enhancing drugs in Belgium. Belgian daily Het Nieuwsblad reported that Flandrian Sven Schoutteten was taken into custody by a magistrate earlier this week after a search of his home uncovered syringes and other doping equipment.
The team said it is investigating what involvement Schoutteten had with riders and staff.
“Schoutteten is alleged to be part of a doping investigation in Belgium that stems from 2009, before the BMC Racing Team was even acquainted with him,” the team said in a statement released Thursday.
“This is very disturbing news,” team president Jim Ochowicz said. “Although he was only picked up to work when we didn’t have enough regular therapists to support the races (he worked two days this year and 13 in 2010), we want to make sure his interaction with our team was nothing out of the ordinary. We do not believe there were any improprieties happening during his time with the team, but we want to make sure. He was not scheduled to be at this year’s Tour de France, of course.”
According to the report, police connected Schoutteten to a package of EPO said to have contained 200 packets of the banned blood booster they confiscated at the Bierset Airport in Liège, Belgium, in 2009.
Schoutteten worked with BMC as recently as the one-day Giro della Toscana in Italy on June 19. The team’s Mauro Santambrogio, who has twice been suspended by BMC for his involvement in the Italian Mantova doping investigation, finished second at the race to Garmin-Cervélo’s Daniel Martin.
When reached by Het Nieuwsblad Thursday, BMC director John LeLangue, who was with the squad in Tuscany and is in Brittany for the Grand Départ of the Tour de France, would not comment.
In addition to his work with BMC Racing, Schoutteten worked with the USA Cycling Development Team juniors at a recent edition of Germany’s Regio Tour. USAC program director Jim Miller said he believed the Belgian was with the team in the 2010 edition of the race, where Lawson Craddock won the KOM competition.
Miller was hesitant to talk about Schoutteten, who he said he did not know and hired based on a recommendation from “the Belgians.”
“He was just a substitute fill-in,” said Miller. “Sometimes when you’re running double junior programs and double, triple U23 programs, you get a guy like that. For us, we had no idea; we picked him on a recommendation from the Belgians.”
Miller said that with the current accusations leveled against Schoutteten, he would not work with the team again.