Monday, 30 January 2012

Marcel Kittel named in doping case

Marcel Kittel
(image credit: Thomas Ducroquet CC BY-SA 3.0)
German broadcaster and website ARD  says that It4i sprinter Marcel Kittel's name is one of 28 athletes named on a list of sportspeople connected to Andreas Franke, the Erfurt-based doctor currently under suspicion of providing blood doping.

Spped skater Claudia Pechstein, now-retired runner Nils Schumann and Jamaican long jump champion James Beckford are also named with ARD claiming that the list also includes several young athletes who would have been minors at the time it believes Franke may have adminstered the treatment - the removal of blood that was subsequently treated with ultra-violet light for later re-infusion into the body.

Iwan Spekenbrink, the manager of It4i, doesn't deny that the rider received treatment from Dr. Franke but says he is not aware Kittel is under investigation and that the procedure did not constitute blood doping at the time Franke is said to have carried it out. "Kittel visited [Dr. Franke] in 2008 when he was sick. Franke helped him with a UV treatment," he explains. "Franke was Kittel's regular doctor and provided treatment to him. As far as I know, the treatment in question was not prohibited in 2008. It was not a treatment whereby litres of blood were removed from the body to be put back in later - it's a treatment to give extra resistance to influenza. To my knowledge, Kittel not involved in any investigation, because the treatment at that time was not banned. Unless we hear that he is under investigation, we will take no action."

Dr. Franke has declined to speak to reporters, but ARD says that he has offered the treatment for 20 years and it produces no performance-enhancing effect, nor have any of the athletes to receive it have failed anti-doping tests. The transfusion of liquids outside a medical emergency was forbidden by the World Anti-Doping Authority in 2005 due to concerns that it might be used to administer or mask banned drugs.

It4i management responded early Monday afternoon with a press release published on the team's website, In it, they state the following:

"For Marcel Kittel, this doctor was also his official contact point in case of health problems. Furthermore, the management of Project 1t4i can report that two other cyclists of the team, Patrick Gretsch and John Degenkolb have also had contact with this doctor in the past.
The team has not heard from the German Public Prosecutor that investigates Dr. Franke, nor from the German anti-doping agency in Bonn, nor from the international world anti-doping agency WADA. The team was also not approached by the German television network ARD."
The full press release can be read here.

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