Dekker returns

Thomas Dekker
Scope for improvement?

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.

Thomas Molenaar
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.

13 thoughts on “Dekker returns”

  1. What is your take on Tom Zirbel, the American cyclist who got received a ban and is now back in competition and performing well? He was also slated to work with Vaugthers, who then abandoned Zirbel when the doping charge came out. I’d be interested to hear your perspective.

  2. I cant help wondering how for example Danish Mads Christensen (Saxo-Sunguard), 3rd after Dekker who easy trailed away for silver 2004 in Verona after Kanstantsin Siutsou (HTC Colombia) had taken off for gold, will greet him when meeting him at the races again. Mads Christensen lost the believe in him self a few years later thinking he was not good enough, had a depression, ended his career and worked in a clothing store.. Now back at Saxo having lost some very important years of earnings, partly because he rode against “cheaters” (not to blame Thomas Dekker exclusively), he can only conclude that cheating pays of. Perhaps, the 2001 wasp sting of Vaughters hit right into the frontal lobe at the spot where the assessment of other people’s intellect takes place, him even considering taking top-crook Dekker on board. Maybe hiding him in the talent squad keeps him off the streets riding for other teams? Maybe it was not a wasp at all?

  3. @ El Gato,

    Top crook is a bit big I’m afraid. Dekker has already spoken to both Pat Mc Quaid and WADA representatives about an effort to educate young riders about the effects of doping. He seems to have offered his help to clean his account and that of future riders.

  4. Dutch television will broadcast a documentary about Thomas Dekker on the 27th of June, on NOS 3. The maker, Gert Jan Lassche, is a respected docu maker, most famous for his political or historical documentaries, but as he’s a cycling fan, he thought it could be a good idea to follow Dekker during his doping suspension.

    For those who speak Dutch, and would like to see a preview. Docu is called ‘Niemand kent mij’ – ‘Nobody knows me’

    Dekker seems an interesting guy for a docu as he was quite cocky and untouchable guy during his professional career, but from what I’ve seen so far he’s really showing his honest self in this documentary. I’m really looking forward to it, as it seems to be something ‘pure’ and ‘honest’, the maker also credited Dekker for the fact that he never asked him to leave the hardest of most painful parts out of it. So could be something interesting.

  5. Believe or not, but Dekker is transformed to another person. Humble, honest, not arrogant (alright still a bit, but which athlete isn’t?). I am very confident TD will rise again. The docu to which Mattias refers is great. I already saw it, and you really see the transformation from an angry young dude to a mature guy. Really impressive docu! Hope it will be subtitled for the rest of you.

  6. Dekker is also working w. Mapei now and publishing his test results (FTP, VO2, blood work etc.) on his personal site (which I can’t bloody find right now). Seems like he’s publishing ALL his test results, unlike a certain I. Basso who only seemed to post a subset.

  7. what I´m trying to say is that cheating do not come in different colors, and that in terms of dopers (and in the real life in generel outside the cyperspace) there is no “I like” buttom that PR stunts or documentaries can aks for forgivness through. I put TD alongside: Ivan Basso, Aleksandr Vinokúrov, Ricardo Ricco and all the other exclusive members of this list:

    Whether they deserve an other chance is up to regulations – not public oponions, advertising agencies or journalists trying to get a bite of the cake. You may like them on a personal level – you may not, but they still have cheated – and should be treated as such.

    If cycling wants to be taken seriously – it has to start acting seriously. Call 118 and start cleaning up the mess – as we are running out of time..

  8. @Gato

    I do not agree that cheating doesn’t come in different colours.

    When that is said how would you like cheaters to be treated? Expelled for life or otherwise marginalised?

    I think doping as a whole is a very comlex matter. Even evangelic anti dopers like Jon Vaughters probably have experienced the art of cheating in some ways. We could throw a neutron bomb into cycling and let it build up from there, but I am not sure the sport would have a better future per se frem there on.

  9. I would also love to hear your take on Zirbel. I am on the perverbial fence on him as his old teammates and close friends said that it was simply not possible that he would dope. But my cynical friends in the pro cycling world laugh at me for this during our group rides. Vaughters ‘connects the dots’ on Tondo but would personally love to have Dekker and Zirbel on his squad. I call a huge BULLSHIT on this one Vaughters.

  10. @ BenD: & therein lies cycling’s problem. Anytime any of us speak with people who ride/rode/managed/coached at elite level, most of them will laugh at you if you suggest this or that rider is clean. They laugh at the idea of anyone being clean. Although I know this isn’t everyone, I have no idea what to believe to be honest.

    In the end, I just resign myself to enjoying each race on its merits and not even trying to analyse further. Its kind of hollow though. I work for a medical company which makes or handles many of the products and devices needed/used in various doping procedures – except that we use them with people battling cancer or kids having operations to save their life at six months old for example. Perhaps some cyclists need to learn about this before taking the advice of a “le’equipier” or doctor who has lost their moral compass.

  11. Doping will always be a part of cycling, like ‘simulation’ is a part of football. Its human nature I guess, if its a first offense then I’m quite ok with ‘forgiving’ the cheater and allow him to come back after 1 or 2 years, still for a second mistake they should be suspended for life.

    Still I believe that cycling has never been as clean as it is these days, and I really believe in the way that teams like Garmin, Sky or Rabobank handle this topic, but the battle against doping is a never ending one… sometimes I wonder if we should care that much. Merckx, Anquetil, Hinault, Armstrong, Indurain and others were great riders, but one should be quite naive to believe that they were clean. I do realise that its ethically not correct, and unfair for the ones who decided no to dope (Mottet, van Hooijdonck, Delion, etc) but I’m also a bit bored with all this talk about drugs. Simply said, I also wanna enjoy the races, without being paranoid whenever I see a rider being in a great form. My experience is that the more people talk about doping, the less they understand/love the sports, one of the reasons why the Zermans love bringing this topic. Lets also not forget about riders who were caught but could well be innocent, as the prove isn’t sound. Zirbel could well be one of them.

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