Dutch federation to form panel to probe ‘culture of doping’ in cycling

The Armstrong Affair and Rabobank's departure as a sponsor show cycling is in crisis, says the Dutch federation

THE HAGUE (AFP) — The Dutch cycling federation is to set up a commission to probe the “culture of doping” in the sport, laid bare by the scandal surrounding disgraced superstar Lance Armstrong.

The Royal Dutch Cycling Federation (KNWB) said professional cycling “is in crisis” in the wake of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report into Armstrong’s cheating and the withdrawal of Dutch Rabobank as a sponsor last month.

“The KNWB believes more can and must be done internationally and nationally” to fight doping, it added.

The commission will be set up no later than November 30 and make public its findings no later than June 1 next year. It will “investigate the facts and findings in relation to the ‘doping culture’ … within Dutch cycling,” the KNWB said in a statement late Tuesday.

It will then come up “with concrete suggestions on how to improve current measures to combat doping,” it added.

During the late 1980s and early ’90s many doctors voiced concerns after more than a dozen Dutch professional cyclists died within the space of three years, raising suspicions about the use of banned substances, including banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin).

Just a week after Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France wins following a USADA report that called him the kingpin of the most sophisticated doping program in the history of sport, 17-year cycling sponsor Rabobank said it will drop out of the sport at the end of this year.

The scandal has also tainted Hein Verbruggen, a Dutch national who headed the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) at the time of Armstrong’s tear through the Tour between 1999 and 2005.

Verbruggen is still an honorary president of the UCI, but has come under mounting pressure from anti-doping campaigners to leave.