In defense of Hein Verbruggen

October 18, 2012

I didn’t think I would ever write a blog with this title, but here we go:

Newspaper De Telegraaf printed these statements it said it received from Verbruggen:

“Armstrong has never tested positive, there is no trace of evidence.”

“There are many, many stories and insinuations, but anyone who knows the control knows that there is nothing to regulate.”

“Mrs. LeMond’s story is so absurd that it is not worth an official statement.”

In the article, these statements were presented as addressing the question of whether or not the USADA report was damning to Lance. And so the whole twittersphere (including myself) was in an uproar, and even more so when Verbruggen protested against the article.

It seemed this was now a simple matter; does the newspaper have proof of those statements having been made. It did, in the form of SMS messages, and it published them. Easy work, case closed.

But not so fast, while there is little doubt the statements were made, it is not entirely clear what question was asked and that matters. De Telegraaf has now removed the SMS messages from its site.

If, as Verbruggen claims, the question asked was not “Is Lance guilty” but instead “Is Mrs. LeMond’s story true that a positive test was covered up by paying you 500,000 dollars”, then the answers make more sense. I’m not saying they are true, far from it, but in the context of that question, there are at this point many stories but hard evidence is still scarce.

It would be good for De Telegraaf to publish the entire SMS stream, including all questions and answers. That’s fair for themselves and for Mr. Verbruggen, and no matter what we may think of him, he deserves that.

Of course, I’m sure that a “story” by Mrs. Lemond isn’t just a “story”, I have no reason to believe she’s ever lied about anything. The same cannot be said for some other people.

But that’s something for another blog (to make sure you don’t miss it, you can subscribe here).

17 Responses to “In defense of Hein Verbruggen”

  1. fietsta Says:

    You’re right, and it struck me too. The only thing asked seems to have been ‘a statement on the latest revelations’, which can be taken multiple ways. If the PROOF HV is talking about is proof of him being paid off by Nike, it all makes much more sense – Verbruggen’s irate response included.

    It was rather foolish of him to go on record like this and still touting his line that LA never tested positive, but that’s another matter.


    • But then again, that could be “tested positive” in the sense of there being anything that needed to be covered up, not in the sense of “never tested positive so never doped”.

      • fietsta Says:

        Agreed, I think it was. Nevertheless, someone in his position – similar statements, retractions, etc – should be really, really careful to be really, really clear.

  2. peter v Says:

    The page did contain the journalist’s questions as well as the answers when I first saw it this morning. But telegraaf/telesport could have mixed them up.


    • Very good. So at the very least it is completely unclear what Verbruggen is referring to, but when you read the whole exchange – especially in Dutch – I would tend to think Verbruggen is referring to covering up positives, not to the whole case.

      At the same time, it is easy to see how the journalists could have understood it differently, as Verbruggen also doesn’t provide much context.

      Honest misunderstanding I would say (then again I’m always looking for the positive side of people :-), until the next blog anyway.

  3. Evan Shaw Says:

    Agree on first part. Part about Kathy Lemond sounds straight from Armstrong play book ,derisive demeaning and arrogant. Usual tactic to destroy the source. H,knows why people are wary. Accepting 125000 at the juncture of his positive results meeting with him And,the lab. That is,not nothing, he should say the mechanic,was wrong,but I,see why people are asking question. When,they repeatedly say they were perfect and it is everyone else’s fault including the fans for,doping people rightly are suspicious.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    True stuff that, but have you read this? > http://bit.ly/R92neP

  5. Anonymous Says:

    gerard, there also remains the scientifically valid, proper chain of evidence collection and maintenance, proof of Armstrong positive on EPO from French research lab, 1999, discovered indirectly by Equipe asking from UCI Armstrong drug forms and independently having the research lab who had analyzed all results from that year match numbers unaware by them to their results. Six 100% congruent EPO positives Armstrong prologue results. URL to Australian 4 corners show on Armstrong is below. The french lab is shown, Ashenden speaks and the results and methods shown. This is damming proof of the UCI which was presented with this information and deliberately ignored it! Damming. Not hearsay, not eyewitness, analytical findings valid. Comment please? : > )

    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/17/armstrong-doping-case-explained-on-australian-television/

    URL is through New York Times site. You can redirect to 4 corners site in Australia by googling it.

    FYI there is very disturbing interviews of major players and prior racers including Phil Anderson who does not come across very well indeed. Such a sadness as we see just how many are potentially complicit

  6. Evan Says:

    Hold onto your bib shorts folks, the next MASSIVE FRAUD in CYCLING IS HITTING THE FAN

    Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport has lifted the lid on the financial aspects of the Padua doping investigation, suggesting that Italian and Swiss police have uncovered a huge system of money laundering and fraud linked to a doping ring involving 20 professional riders and athletes from triathlon and biathlon.

    The two-page report by experienced journalist Luigi Perna claims that the two-year Padua investigation is the biggest anti-doping investigation in the history of sport, much bigger than Operacion Puerto.

  7. Toon Says:

    Agree. I read it as covering up a positive when first read.


  8. Journalists should be held to the same standards that we ask of our subjects. One of the many blessings of the Internet is that we don’t have to wait months to have a letter to the editor published in a newspaper few of us have physical access to. A clarification or retraction can be made easily if needed or additional information can be posted that supports what was published. In that interaction the truth can be gleaned.

  9. Roger Says:

    The Telegraaf is a notorious bad newspaper, the Dutch equivalent of Jayson Blair named Martijn Koolhoven was also working there: http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/2694/Tech-Media/article/detail/2924477/2011/09/22/Telegraaf-schorst-sterverslaggever-na-gelogen-verhaal-moslimwijk.dhtml

  10. Evan Says:

    READ ALL ABOUT IT! LIVESTRONG AND UCI FORM NEW BIKE LEAGUE CALLED THE TOUD DE PHARM. THE RULES AS PROPOSED BY JOHN EUSTICE OUTSPOKEN USA FORMER RACER AND LANCE APOLOGIST ARE THAT DOPING IS A SCIENCE AND TODAYS ATHLETES ARE RAISING THE BAR ON PERFORMANCE EXCITEMENT AND FAN INVOLVEMENT. RATHER THAN DRUG TESTING BEING BANNED THEY ARE OPENING A NEW FERARRI DOPING SPORTS CENTER IN SWITZERLAND FUNDED BY ARMSTRONGS DONATIONS. IT WILL STUDY THE ADVANCED USE OF NEW AND BETTER DRUG ENHANCED ATHLETES.

    THE NEW TDF WILL CONSIST OF 42 STAGES OF 400 KM PER DAY OVER 7 MOUNTAIN PASSES PER STAGE. GET READY FOR THE FUTURE OF CYCLING.


  11. サマンサベガ 新作 [プラダジャパン 求人] http://www.paralinterfce.info/


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