Former team mate Schumacher – Doubts about Hondo’s confession
By Hajo Seppelt, Jörg Mebus, Josef Opfermann and Jörg Winterfeldt
A few days after the doping confession of the former professional cyclist Danilo Hondo, experts doubt the truth. The former Doper Stefan Schumacher even speaks of “nonsense”.
The doping confession thing is one of those things. In January, the cross-country skier Johannes Dürr from Austria unpacked about his fraud in the ARD film “Die Gier nach Gold”. Supposedly. Because later it came out that he had concealed some passages of the truth without further ado.
Last weekend, former professional cyclist Danilo Hondo showed his willingness to report openly on his doping practices on ARD. More or less voluntarily, after he had been informed that the Erfurt physician Mark Schmidt was supposed to have given Mark the record in police interrogations that he had also treated him in this forbidden manner. The doctor who also wanted to help the winter sportsman Dürr to top performance with blood doping. “It was about 2011,” said Hondo about his illegal blood treatments, “there were three to four blood samples taken and three to four returns.
In addition, however, Hondo, who most recently worked in Switzerland as national coach, does not want to have used doping in his career spanning almost two decades, although he was active in the badly reputed teams Telekom and Gerolsteiner in a seriously doping-infested era of cycling. Despite a two-year sentence for doping in 2005, Hondo even claimed that he had never deliberately doped in his career except for the blood doping period. He had asserted about his experiences with Team Telekom: “It really was the case that not all athletes were involved. That was my personal impression. I was never directly involved in doping.”
Ex-team mate Schumacher about Hondo’s confession – the whole interview . Sports show . 16.05.2019 . 21:57:00 hours . Available until 16.05.2099 . ARD .
“I know what happened.”
There are great doubts among experts as to whether the confession corresponds to the facts in this respect. “The fact that he took the step deserves respect. I was in a hurry to make it out”. said former professional Stefan Schumacher to the ARD doping editorial team (Sport Inside, WDR, 15 May 2019, 22:55). “The story with Mark Schmidt will have taken place in the same way by and large. As for his past in Team Telekom, in Team Gerolsteiner – I don’t know how to express myself politically correct, but that was just nonsense. That was completely unbelievable from my point of view. I drove in both teams myself. I know what was going on.”
And in 2003, for example, in Hondos last year there, the Telekom team employed 25 drivers. In the course of their careers, 14 of them had something to do with doping. Most of them were convicted, some under strong suspicion. And the doped superstar Jan Ullrich was not even a team member at the time. In an investigation report ten years ago, experts on Telekom team doctors Andreas Schmid and Lothar Heinrich stated that they had systematically doped from 1995 to 2006.
Schumacher, now a triathlete, says that doping is no longer an option for him. As a professional cyclist he cheated with the relevant arsenal: Epo, cera, corticosteroids and growth hormone. He knows the doctor Schmidt personally from three years with Team Gerolsteiner. “He signaled to me early on and also to other drivers that he was open to a lot”. Schumacher said, “I personally have never worked with him, even in my doping past. I had my reasons for not revealing myself to him in this respect. He wasn’t a person I could trust.”
For years together in the peloton, partly as team mates: Stefan Schumacher (r.) and the last confessed Danilo Hondo (2nd from l.)
Former industry colleague Schumacher followed Hondo’s confession to television with interest: “I sympathized with him. An oppressive feeling has spread, memories have come up.” He had the impression that everything might repeat itself again. Because in retrospect, the Swabian Schumacher knows that he made mistakes.
“Chrystal meth among doping methods.”
Once his deception was publicised and he felt cornered, he chose to defend himself in public, unlike Hondo now. “I went to the Aktuelle Sportstudio, said things I regret to this day.” In response to the moderator’s question, Schumacher once replied: “No, I’ve never doped before in my life. I’ve never used illegal methods.”
Compared to the ARD doping editorial team last Saturday, Hondo had also denied all accusations verbosely on the phone, but then, only hours later, had corrected its version on its own initiative. “If you take this step, you should also build up a little distance, you can’t do that within 24 hours,” says Schumacher, “the biggest mistake is to lie in public. I regret lying in public, defending myself in a way that was just wrong.”
Schumacher does not think that Hondo’s alleged choice of the entry-level doping method is plausible. “If he started a career in the mid-1990s, at a time when we were still somewhere in the Wild West when it came to doping, and then describes that he started with blood doping for the first time at the age of 37, i.e. in 2011, that’s really a very adventurous story from my point of view,” said Schumacher, “Blood doping is definitely not the entry drug, if you talk about doping, it’s more like the Chrystal Meth among doping methods.
He concludes from his own experience: “I have never done blood doping. I might have had the opportunity late in my doping career, in 2008, to come into contact for the first time with people who practice it.”
Armstrong as a reminder
However, the fate of Lance Armstrong may be a lesson to many repentant cycling professionals: Extensive confessions to life, he learned, can grow into costly affairs. Armstrong had admitted his years of fraud in 2013 under great persecution pressure. The American, once considered the most successful driver of all time, was subsequently covered in lawsuits. Sponsors demanded money back, opponents of earlier lawsuits demanded lawyers’ fees. In 2018 he finally promised whistleblower Floyd Landis, a former colleague, a refund of 1.65 million dollars for his legal expenses.
It was also only last year that Armstrong reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice to pay five million dollars because the state-owned postal company, which had lavishly financed its team between 2000 and 2004, felt set up by him. Compared to the amount originally claimed, it was a bargain: For all the damage caused by his fraud, including immaterial damage to the brand’s reputation, the Ministry had originally demanded $100 million.
Topic in: Sport Inside, WDR, 15.05., from 22.55 o’clock