BMC Racing hired Sven Schoutteten for many races

Thursday, 30 June 2011

A part-time soigneur for us? His name means nothing to me. I also don’t know anything about an arrest. This is the first I’ve heard of it.

So says BMC Racing’s President and “General Manager” Jim Ochowitz when asked about the case of Sven Schoutteten *, who has been arrested for allegedly ordering 195 doses of recombinant EPO, an infamous doping product. It’s possible Ochowitz didn’t hear about the arrests, indeed Schoutteten might have hushed this up. Plus he is not a full-time team employee.

But I can reveal Sven Schoutteten has been working for the team as a soigneur at numerous races and as recently as two weeks ago. He didn’t just pop for an race or two as emergency cover, he has been an integral part of the team’s spring classics squad. Don’t take my word for it, here’s the BMC website. And here again. And again. And again. Oh and again. Again, again, again and again. Note the Sven “Shouteken” spelling in some instances.

A best this looks a bit careless, if not reckless. A team manager who doesn’t know who he’s employing doesn’t sound like a very good manager, especially given soigneurs have a crucial role within the team.

Who did know?
If we accept Ochowitz is so far out of the loop that he doesn’t know who is caring for his riders and who his team hires, then more importantly the question becomes who on the team did know about Schoutteten, who took the decision to recruit him? How did someone under police investigation join this team or did Schoutteten try to hide this embarrassing news? Either way this doesn’t look very good.

Schoutteten claims the EPO was for personal use although the volume seized certainly raises an eyebrow. I’ve had it put to me that it’s possible that he could be selling EPO on to amateurs, that the seized doping products were in no way meant for the pro team, except that he might have been touting his “pro soigneur” status to boost his credibility amongst lesser riders. That’s possible and let’s hope so.

In the meantime, BMC Racing and its staff probably need to come up with more information to avoid further embarrassment. The only certainty in this story is that Schoutteten won’t work for the team again.

* EDIT: 18.30 CET: Ochowitz says he was confused and that he does know Schoutteten. It’s good to know the team manager knows who he manages but if that’s one question take of, there are many more. For example, if he knew Schoutteten, how come someone under police investigation for trafficking EPO got a job on the team?

norbs June 30, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Lets hope this doesn’t hurt Evans preparation or if he goes well, whether he doped.

Neil June 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm

It does cast a bit of a shadow on “cuddles”.

Flashing Pedals June 30, 2011 at 12:40 pm

given the way other teams have been ‘un-invited’ from the TDF for ‘bringing the race/sport into disrepute’ can someone explain why exactly, Ochowicz, Rihs, Lelangue – BMC are permitted to ride?

Why is it that specific persons are frequently named and villified – justified or not, yet the most ‘well connected’ remain carefree to carry on ?

At what point does the UCI borrow some balls ?
Is it purely because of the Lelangue/TDF connection ?

Ochowicz – has knowledge of Swiss banking process, UBS – has been unlucky enough to be involved with some of the most effective teams on the planet, regarding preparation, staff members + riders involved in those self same teams, turn up involved with industrial quantities of PED’s yet he never sees, or knows anything.
Ballan gets implicated or suggested and the team removes him from racing, then its all back to normal…

Hincapie is implicated in drug use and supply, yet no one says a thing ?
Freddy Viane – an unfortunate set of circumstances, implicated in many teams that then were discovered to have established supply and preparation plans, yet again, no one says a thing….

and the people that think Alberto Contador’s case is a smokescreen of distraction…….

Ankush June 30, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Cyclingnews article (which has been removed now) reports that the bust was some two years ago and it’s only now that the arrest warrant has been issued. It’s different than Vansevenant case but it may still cast a shadow over Cuddles’ preparation. This Tour becomes increasingly controversial day by day which is sad to see

PJ June 30, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Ochowitz has some serious egg on his face – it’s possible he didn’t know of Schoutteten being under police investigation, however I find it hard to accept he didn’t have any knowledge of Schoutteten’s presence as a member of staff. If the GM doesn’t know who is coming and going as staff of an organisation he/she is managing, how can you have faith in any statement they make??

Soigneurs, as far as I can tell, have some history in this regard (wasn’t the infamous Willy Voet also a soigneur?), and you would think that a procycling team intent on distancing itself from PEDs would be closely scrutinising who they are hiring. Such scrutiny is even more important given that soigneurs have private access to riders and can develop close relationships with them. This affair doesn’t look good and puts massive question marks alongside BMC’s internal staffing and communication processes.

Qwerty June 30, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Nice detective work. Ochowitz sounds like a slippery guy, he should have checked his own website first.

Ziggymund June 30, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I really like this blog :-)

TdF Lanterne Rouge June 30, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Well done. Connecting the dots… connecting the dots…. hmm, why did Wim Vansevenant get his products all the way from Australia, do you think?

GreaseMonster June 30, 2011 at 1:33 pm

How long till they wake up and edit their website?

ben June 30, 2011 at 2:07 pm

First link is now dead… here’s a working one:

BMC soigneur implicated in drug investigation
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/bmc-soigneur-implicated-in-drug-investigation

The Inner Ring June 30, 2011 at 2:15 pm

Norbs / Neil: it’s not helpful but he’s not linked right now, so there’s not much more to say.

FP / PJ: yes. It’s only one quote so let’s see what they say but he’s put his foot in it for sure.

TdF LR: that’s dot joining too far for now but let’s say vigilant.

Grease Monster: well they can’t hide from Google’s cache.

Ankush / ben: thanks, the link is fixed. The first link did read “former soigneur” but has been changed.

Oliver June 30, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Can you say Festina?
Will anyone come out and say that Ochowitz lied about this? That he knew full well who was working for him? It’s time to quit dancing around; reasonable people not involved in the sport can see this a mile away. And it becomes clearer when going back to Bernhard Kohl’s statement: you cannot contend for the Tour de France without resorting to PED’s. Kohl had nothing to gain but opprobrium for that statement yet it should help us see clearly about the state of things in pro-cycling. If one had taken it seriously none of these scandals would come as a surprise. The bottom line is: if your favourite rider is a contender for the Tour he dopes. It’s not really that shocking. What is shocking however are the folks in the press and in the blogs that keep denying it.
Yet I still really enjoy watching pro-cycling –though I sometimes wonder why.

Chris H. June 30, 2011 at 3:07 pm

It is both unimpressive for Ochowicz to say he knew nothing about hiring the guy and also unfortunate to suggest that a soigneur just using his status to sell EPO to amateurs is somehow a relief and a better situation than passing it around the BMC squad (second to last paragraph).

If anything, it’s worse. I wouldn’t be relieved to find out that a pro team staff member is dishing out the dope to amateurs. Organized doping or no, that implicates the team in a very unfortunate situation and team management has to do better than deny any knowledge that this guy has worked for the team.

mdfrank June 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm

I agree with Chris H., it totally unacceptable for a member of a Pro Team staff to be involved with providing PEDs to amateurs.

The Inner Ring June 30, 2011 at 3:45 pm

Chris H. / mdfrank: I agree too. What I meant was that on the eve of the Tour de France if the pro team is linked they risk exclusion, what I was trying to say is that this might not force the team to collapse. Anyone case of r-EPO abuse is to be deplored, that goes without saying.

Q June 30, 2011 at 3:56 pm

There have been allegations, including testimony in past U.S. court cases, that EPO was used by members of the old Motorola team. If the allegations are true, then Jim Ochowicz has already directed teams in which he either knew about doping or was ridiculously ignorant of it. This, combined with the past history of Andy Rihs, has always made a bit nervous about the BMC team. The allegations against some of its riders earlier this spring, and now this incident, seem to bear that out. This is unfortunate because it has the potential to tarnish riders like Evans who do not seem to have ever been under suspicion and some of the talented young riders who have joined.

rufio June 30, 2011 at 5:02 pm

@Q
“This is unfortunate because it has the potential to tarnish riders like Evans who do not seem to have ever been under suspicion and some of the talented young riders who have joined.”

I wonder if young Mr. Phinney is questioning his decision to join BMC?

ben June 30, 2011 at 5:09 pm

These tweets from @TheRaceRadio from 3 June are awfully prescient now:

Lets play guess the team. Ready?

Team owner funded doping program for Tour winner. Team manager approved program and introduced star rider to way to hide income from taxes. Top GC ride used to work with Ferrari as did top classics rider. Two stars are on tape talking about transfusions and EPO. Yet nobody cares?

Have lots of journalist following me on Twitter. At the classics how many waited outside Och’s hotel or asked Ballan the hard questions?

Start here:
http://twitter.com/#!/TheRaceRadio/status/76699235499769856

Flashing Pedals June 30, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Ben
I’ve said those things often & to a few journalists, but unfortunately, they only hit the easy targets.
The one’s who express interest in similar themes, generally are either constrained by ‘rules’ or just don’t rock the boat enough.
If you sat down and scribbled names of managers, team owners, team personnel who all quite frankly have their hands covered in doping money laundering schemes, for a long time, you’d realise the problem is not riders who dope, but the dopes who preside over cycling.

jza June 30, 2011 at 6:35 pm

How has Evans never been suspicious???????He rode for Mapei!!!! MAPEI!!!! Three-up in the Roubaix velodrome Mapei!!!! And then just got better from there. I mean really, folks.

Q June 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm

OK, I forgot Cadel rode for Mapei, and yes, if there was ever a team whose results suggested systematic doping, it was Mapei.

As much as I am also suspicious of Radio Shack because of its past, it now looks like Taylor Phinney may have been better off staying with them for a variety of reasons.

The Inner Ring June 30, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Note the edit above. I’ve added it to reflect that Ochowitz does know who he is. But this still leaves plenty of questions.

jza / Q: no, Mapei had several riders using the services of Dr Ferrari and other “doctors” but I don’t think that as a team they were doing the systemic things that other squads tried. Not to say it was all clean, no way, more that riders made deals with preferred “doctors”. At one point the team owner had enough of this and tried to remove those working with Ferrari.

jza June 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Mapei leaving ‘because of doping’ is total BS. They entered the sport when the rules did not adequately address the drugs available, and then left before they could get bogged down in scandal.

Mapei’s business is to get rich parents to send their kids there to become big time pro athletes. Doping controversies would pretty much ruin this for good. They new exactly what they were doing. They got maximum publicity and left right before the house of cards was going to fall. To suggest they left because of a moral objection to doping is ridiculous.

You can’t take anything a pro cycling team says at face value.

The Inner Ring June 30, 2011 at 8:32 pm

jza: who said Mapei “[left] because of doping”? I didn’t. Also, note their business is chemical adhesives, not sports management.

jza June 30, 2011 at 8:47 pm

So you would say that Mapei’s sponsorship of cycling was not related to their sponsorship of the sport academy/school/service/etc?

Matt June 30, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Don’t confuse the sporting company and the sponsor

The Inner Ring June 30, 2011 at 9:18 pm

jza: not really, the Mapei centre is tiny. The company does industrial chemicals for construction http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mapei

JT June 30, 2011 at 9:28 pm

What a sad story. I really thought we might be reaching the end of the ‘turning a blind eye’ / being naive (or pretending to be) / being out of the loop stuff. Such a shame. It’s just not good enough to say you didn’t know someone was up to no good. As the GM of a team you should be vetting people properly. I agree, many within the sport have dirty hands but at least they appear to be making an effort to be clean now. Anyone who hasn’t worked out that the climate has changed really needs to wake up and smell the GC-MS.

Nathan June 30, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Looks like BMC is responding to the situation: http://www.bmc-racing.com/fr-en/team/news/team/bmc-racing-team-statement-sven-schoutteten.html

They also relate details of how much he worked for them.

merlin July 1, 2011 at 12:31 am

” I’ve had it put to me that it’s possible that he could be selling EPO on to amateurs, that the seized doping products were in no way meant for the pro team, except that he might have been touting his “pro soigneur” status to boost his credibility amongst lesser riders. That’s possible and let’s hope so.”

To my mind selling to amateurs worse, instead lets hope it was all for his dog.

JustJoshinYa July 1, 2011 at 1:41 am

The team and it’s owners need to be held responsible for the actions of those in it’s employ. I am not merely talking about losing sponsors (this behavior will handle that by itself…look at HTC’s sponsor problems) – I am talking about sanctions and owners who’ve owned teams with doping history should not be owners anymore. GMs with history should not be GMs. Cyclists should not be in the sport and should not be brought back as DSs…It’s WAY past time to clean house.

Cycling has a unique talent to screw itself at every turn. It’s beyond ridiculous! *If Cadel is clean*, he should be bloody furious to be employed and associated to this team. I feel the same with JVDB over at Lotto who finds himself in a similar boat with Cadel. I become more and more disenchanted by a sport where so much deception, dishonesty, and cheating – Where the beauty is so tainted by the fact that so many known cheats and so much ingrained omerta exists. I’m just about ready for the baby to be tossed out with the bathwater.

PT July 1, 2011 at 3:49 am

Where does it say the EPO came from Australia? If this is the case, it should be simple to trace as prescription drugs are heavily regulated here and cannot just be bought on the internet or at a shop. There must have been a prescribing doctor and a patient named on the prescription. If this is not the case then its a criminal activity involving drugs that have been stolen from a pharmaceutical company, hospital or pharmacy.

Flashing Pedals July 1, 2011 at 9:02 am

MAPEI > the principal business is manufacturing of adhesives – primarily for ceramic tiles.
Giorgio Squinzi is the head of the (family owned company) business.
When the cycling enthusiast decided to end his association of the team, he did so with the parting words that to win a grand tour, riders needed to be doped.
He also stated that he was disillusioned with the political corruption within cycling.

The Mapei Sport Centre, was setup to combat the problem of Mapei signed pro riders working with individual doctors, whom were either discredited or simply known to be a problem.
Nowadays the Mapei Sport Centre is associated with the AIS U23 team & its likely to be associated with GreenEDGE in 2012.

Matt July 1, 2011 at 12:15 pm

So Thomas Frei did it all on his own without any help from the team did he?

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/frei-confesses-to-epo-usage-and-is-released-by-bmc

Hmm. Doesn’t wash now, does it.

PT July 1, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I thought Mapei ( the chemical company) was still associated with cycling. Their logo and some corporate facilities were all over the 2010 World Championships at Geelong.

The Inner Ring July 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm

Yes, they have just signed a deal to sponsor cycling and the UCI

Sean July 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Both men have precious.

Ochowicz & Lelangue have form so to speak. The former has
Had multiple associations with La going back to the early days and if I’m not wrong the 7-Eleven or Motorola teams. Lelangue was ds of Phonak and we all know how well that team was managed, don’t we.

Feargal July 2, 2011 at 8:12 am

Heiden. Discuss.

Jarvis July 3, 2011 at 10:24 pm

BMC are standing on a precipice. They seem to be managing a PR campaign that is more effective that Armstrong’s over pretty much the same accusations, but this is probably only because Armstrong is more famous. This could all get very ugly if Cuddles continues to lead the Tour. Too many unanswered questions, I can’t imagine it will be too long before Kimmage is asking Rihs and Ochowicz for those answers.

Sad, really.

Mid West Roadie July 3, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Jim Ochowitz might have a disturbing problem of looking the other way with doping cases until someone is caught red-handed and then he is “shocked, shocked.”

As president of USA Cyling I believe he was informed of “suspicious” blood values from Tyler Hamilton before the Olympics; did noting, he hired Ballin, and this.

It seems like the only time he takes action is after the cops haul someone off in handcuffs.

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