A very impressive part of Primoz Roglic's Giro d'Italia victory earlier this year, Michel Hessmann has not raced since recording a positive doping test, an incident that Jumbo-Visma boss Richard Plugge admits raises questions within the team.
“Wednesday, August 16, 2023 was a black day for our team,” reflects Plugge to RIDE Magazine. “For the first time in ten years, we received the message that a rider from our team, Michel Hessmann , had taken a positive doping test. We have to look in the mirror ourselves, are we doing everything right?”
Of course, Hessmann's positive has done little to take the shine off what has been a historic season for Jumbo-Visma as they triumphed in all three Grand Tours. However, giving the sport's somewhat murky history, such dominance is always questioned and news of Hessmann did nothing to quieten this vocal section of doubters.
“Everyone involved in and with our organization must be aware of everything. Germany has a doping law, so the public prosecutor's office is automatically involved," says Plugge. "Criminal law has the presumption of innocence, while disciplinary law reasons the other way around. It is up to the athlete to prove that he has done nothing wrong. If the test is carried out properly, there are two flavors, either it is conscious, or it is contamination from a supplement or other medicine."
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“It is therefore mandatory within our team to only use supplements and medicines that have been batch checked for doping substances, to minimize the risk of contamination. Many products contain remnants of other products,” he continues. “In short, an athlete cannot simply take a supplement, drug or energy drink without knowing whether it has been tested beforehand. There can be a doping control 365 days a year, the athlete must be sharp every day. That is part of cycling policy. Riders are checked between thirty and 150 times per year. That is good and should remain that way. We stand for fair sport in which talents cross swords on equal grounds.”