Dutch former cyclist Thomas Dekker has admitted that he is the rider codenamed 'Luigi' in doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes's files uncovered in 2006 during the Operación Puerto drugs bust in Spain. The admission quells the rumours that the codename belonged to Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara.
Dekker released a book – Thomas Dekker: My Fight – this week and spoke with Belgian magazine Humo about some of its doping revelations.
"Fuentes gave me that nickname," Dekker explained. "That's me, and no one else.
"I came in contact with Fuentes through my agent, Jacques Hanegraaf. He introduced me to Fuentes and Luigi Cecchini."
Fuentes helped doped cyclists and stood at the epicentre of cycling's biggest doping scandal to date: Operación Puerto. In May 2006, police raided his Madrid offices and found around 200 codenamed blood bags. Several teams and riders did not start the 2006 Tour de France due to the raid.
Ivan Basso (code name Birillo), Michele Scarponi (Zapatero), Jörg Jaksche (Bella) and Alejandro Valverde (Piti) served suspensions and others cyclists including Tyler Hamilton (41-42), Jan Ullrich (Hijo Rudicio) and Mario Cipollini (Maria) were linked to Fuentes.
Tyler Hamilton sparked rumours in a 2013 interview that Fabian Cancellara, who won the Olympic time trial in August and just retired, was Luigi from Fuentes's records. The rumour persisted.
"It affects me, it affects the team, it affects the sponsors," Cancellara said in 2013. "There's so many names. It's like with Alberto, they say AC is Alberto Contador. In the end, it's definitely not my problem."
He added the link may have come from his trainer Luigi Cecchini. "He was my trainer, I remember the first time I met him and what we talked about, it was all about training performance and not doping performance."
After Cancellara won the time trial in Rio de Janeiro, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong wrote on Twitter, "@TrekSegafredo Luigi!!"
Dekker replied to that August 11 Tweet and said, "Wasn't me!"
However, the 32-year-old confirmed it in the Humo interview and in a message to American cyclist Phillip Gaimon (Cannondale). Gaimon put the message on Twitter. Dekker said: "I am Luigi Classicomano".
The Luigi Classicomano name was linked to blood bags 24 and 33 in Spain’s investigation.
Dekker revealed in his book yesterday how he used banned substances and blood doping, and paid for prostitutes during the 2007 Tour de France. He served a doping ban for EPO use and returned to race for Garmin/Slipstream in 2012.
When the Operación Puerto investigation exploded, he was a 21-year-old second-year professional with team Rabobank. At that point he had won a stage in the Critérium International and the Tirreno-Adriatico overall.
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