“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?