Former professional rider Thomas Dekker has just released his autobiography – Thomas Dekker: Mijn Gevecht (My Battle). In the book, the former Rabobank rider details the extent of doping among the Dutch team.
An excerpt of the book has been published online by AD.nl, which covers the 2007 Tour de France and explains how riders took EPO, cortisone, received blood transfusions and used prostitutes.
“Every day we use cortisone. The product name is Diprofos. We have a medical certificate,” Dekker said. “I wouldn’t even know what it’s for, it is a sham. With cortisone we can go deeper during the race. And besides, I am nice and thin: I am 68 kilos at 1 meter 88 – I have never been so thin before.”
“The start is in London. We’re here a week in advance. On the Thursday before the Tour there is a check by the UCI. My hematocrit is 45, Michael’s is 50. He sits on the edge of the edge. He’s a risk; one point higher and he falls through the basket at a doping control. The doctors of the team propose every morning at six o’clock, before the controllers can knock to run an infusion of water in his body. That drops your hematocrit two or three points.”
In a team meeting before 2007 Tour de France, Michael Rasmussen says that he feels good and could ride as team leader, aiming for the overall.
“We need a little laugh,” Dekker says. “I think it’s great speech. We do not yet know that he lied about his whereabouts, nor that he is full up to his neck with dope – though we suspect he is. We did not know that the team doctors gave him injections Dynepo from our stock, though we hear about it long after the Tour.
“Rasmussen turns out to be right; He’s very good. In the first real mountain stage of the Tour he is already gone sixty kilometers from the finish. We only see him back after the finish in Tignes, in the yellow jersey.”
“We ask Rasmussen nothing. Actually, we do have respect for him. He did it smart, like Boogerd, I think. He has devised a system for himself and apparently it works, because he is riding in the yellow jersey. Simple enough. Doping is everywhere. In our team, other teams. Dynepo, cortisone, blood bags, IV drips and sleeping pills – if you are surrounded by absurdity, you eventually think it is normal.”
“We did not believe the Mexico affair would have really serious consequences – until the moment Rasmussen knocks on the door of the room where Boogerd and I lie. When he steps in, I can see from his face that he has been crying. “I am removed from the Tour,” he says. Boogerd says, “What? How do you mean?’ Rasmussen stammers: “Theo did it. Theo took me out of the Tour.”
“That Rasmussen has lied: so what?” says Dekker. “We’ve all done things that are not allowed. The team doctors are involved in doping. I’ve never talked about doping with De Rooij, but I cannot imagine that he thinks Rasmussen will win the Tour without doping. He’s not stupid. The policy that he and Erik Breukink [also Rabobank team manager] conduct is at best a kind of tolerance. They demand that we are well in competitions, but they do not know how.”
“When we get off at the start, we are booed by the audience. They shout “dopers’ and ‘cheaters’ at us. Michael almost punches a guy in the face who calls out something about doping in Dutch.
“I drag myself four days to Paris. There was a big party planned for us to drive to Rabobank headquarters with a full yellow train, but instead we come together in just a hall in just a hotel in Paris. There is nothing to celebrate.”
Thomas Dekker’s pro career started promisingly, as he was touted as the Netherlands’ next big thing as an under-23 rider and the wins started rolling in. All was not right, however, as Dekker was one of the first riders to be caught out by the UCI’s biological passport system and was banned for two years. He was handed a lifeline by the Garmin team in 2011, but the victories failed to rematerialise. He retired from cycling in 2015.