BRUSSELS, Oct 1, 2009 (AFP) – Belgian cycling team Silence announced they had sacked Dutch drugs cheat Thomas Dekker on Thursday.
The team run by Marc Sergeant, and which has claimed two Tour de France runner-up places in three years thanks to Austrlian Cadel Evans, also announced they will change their name to Omega Pharma as of 2010.
Dekker was brought on board to boost Evans’ victory bid in July only to learn that an earlier sample, taken from him while he raced for Rabobank, had tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO (erythropoietin).
The 25-year-old Dutchman had initially become a target for doping inspectors from the International Cycling Union (UCI), and their scrutiny paid off as a second ‘B’ sample on Wednesday confirmed the first result.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the team’s name change, and to also celebrate Evans’ recent victory in the world road race championships, Sergeant said he had no choice but to sack Dekker.
“After we found out his positive result in July we put on the non active list,” Sergeant told HLN.be.
“Now the second analysis proves that he has taken banned substances and we have no other choice but to end our collaboration.”
Dekker tried to make some amends for what he says was a “one-time mistake”, and has vowed to return to cycling.
“Thomas Dekker regrets his mistake; he will apologies and be held accountable, where possible,” his lawyer Hans Van Oijen said in a press release Wednesday.
Dekker said he wants to return to cycling to prove he achieved his past results because of his talent and his teams’ help.
Dekker, a two-time Dutch time trial champion and winner of the 2006 Tirreno-Adriatico (2006) and Tour de Romandie (2007) stage races, faces a two-year ban.
Silence, which is part subsidized by Belgium’s national lottery, has changed the name of its main sponsor on several occasions in recent years.
It was called Davitamon from 2005 to 2006, Predictor in 2007 and Silence in 2008 and 2009. All three names are from products among those made by the pharmaceutical company Omega Pharma.