BMC head soigneur, Weisel, Gorski named in affidavit
Along with head soigneur at BMC Racing, former Postal Service benefactor, general manager named in O'Reilly affidavit
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The slow drip of information around the doping culture in professional cycling continues, now with the naming of a BMC Racing soigneur as someone who facilitated doping in the days of the United States Postal Service team, and also the naming of former team owner Thomas Weisel and general manager Mark Gorski.
In an un-redacted affidavit published on Monday as part of the legal filings in the federal whistleblower case against Lance Armstrong, Emma O’Reilly, a former Postal Service soigneur, named Freddy Viaene as a supplier of a doping products on one occasion. Viaene is currently the head soigneur for BMC Racing, according to the team’s website.
In her affidavit, O’Reilly says that Viaene — who by 1998 wasn’t with the USPS team but would return in 2000 — supplied her with a package at a hotel in Gent, Belgium, in the spring of 1998. She was supposed to deliver it to George Hincapie, and when she said she considered taking the package back to the U.S., Viaene discouraged her, noting that it was testosterone.
O’Reilly said she never saw Viaene distribute or administer banned substances to the riders, but that he did explain to her how certain banned substances worked, according to her affidavit. She worked for the Postal Service team from 1996 to 2000.
Viaene has worked with Phonak, Discovery Channel, Motorola, and 7-Eleven — all teams with ties to BMC Racing president Jim Ochowicz. He was the head soigneur for Phonak, owned by BMC Racing principal Andy Rihs, and home to Floyd Landis when he tested positive for testosterone during the 2006 Tour de France. Ochowicz was an advisor to the Phonak team and has served as a broker and director with Thomas Weisel Partners.
BMC Racing issued an official statement on Wednesday morning: “This does not relate to the BMC Racing Team and it does not have anything to do with Freddy Viaene while he has been working for the BMC Racing Team.”
The affidavit also mentioned Postal Service team owner Thomas Weisel as in-the-know when it came to the team’s doping practices.
“I remember being in a room with Lance, Thom Weisel, and [general manager] Mark Gorski when the three of them came up with the explanation for the presence of corticosteroids in Lance’s sample,” her affidavit reads in regard to a positive test. “Thom and Mark came up with the saddle sore excuse and figured out how far to backdate the prescription …”
Weisel, the affidavit reads, was aware of the doping program at Postal.
The affidavit itself is not new, as it was part of the information trove the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released last fall, but it marks the first time some of the previously redacted names have appeared in the public domain in the affidavits. It’s unclear if more will be published.
In June of 2011, a part-time BMC soigneur who had also worked with the USA Cycling development program on at least one occasion was implicated in doping. Flandrian Sven Schoutteten was taken into custody after a search of his home uncovered syringes and other doping equipment.
According to a media 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.
At the time, Ochowicz said the news was “disturbing.”
“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,” he said.
It is unclear at this time if O’Reilly’s affidavit will effect Viaene’s employment status with BMC Racing.