A quick mention of Thomas Dekker. In case you’re not familiar, he was once a promising Dutch rider but got busted for EPO. His ban is coming to an end and now he has a book out. If this sounds familiar, yes it is similar to the case of David Millar given the Scot has been banned, has comeback and also released a book this month.
As much as it sounds like Millar all over again, each case is individual. We can draw parallels but the picture isn’t identical. Yes to the doping bust, the partying, the alcohol and now the desire to make a fresh start is similar, not to mention the book release within weeks.
But Dekker doesn’t seem to be naming many people whereas Millar was forced to admit everything in court. Later he was criticising practices on his own Saunier Duval team to the UCI and then working with the British anti-doping agency and serving on a WADA panel. Dekker has yet to start a similar crusade. Plus where whispers about Dekker being up to no good from the moment he turned pro.
Dekker can’t get the A-team
Garmin-Cervélo’s Jonathan Vaughters turned up to the book launch and has been talking to Dekker for some time. The rules of the MPCC, the “movement for a credible cycling” of which Vaughters and his team structure, Slipstream, is a member demand that no rider coming back can join a top level team. So it’s possible Vaughters hires Dekker for the development squad at Continental level, the Chipotle squad instead of the main Garmin-Cervélo team.
This is risky stuff – think lion taming – but if Millar can be onboard then perhaps Dekker deserves a chance? This isn’t (and shouldn’t be) an easy decision but if Dekker is going to come back, then it’s much better he does it with a supportive team rather than being left to himself by a team seemingly only interested in publicity and results. Vaughters has been cautious to track his blood data for some time in order to build up his own view of the rider. All the same, one false move by Dekker and the whole ship runs aground.
Anyway, a story to watch as much for us to be vigilant with Dekker but to gauge other reactions, be they from a potential team but also the sport as a whole.