Former Gerolsteiner manager Hans-Michael Holczer has revealed that he went close to suspending his team’s top rider Levi Leipheimer during the 2005 Tour de France, due to suspicions of doping.
The German has just released a book, entitled Garantiert Positiv, about his experiences in the pro peloton, and said that the American went extremely close to a UCI suspension during the race.
According to Holczer, he was told on the rest day in Grenoble that analysis of Leipheimer’s blood values had returned an off-score reading of 132.8, just 0.2 away from the threshold that would have seen him been automatically stopped by the UCI.
The off score is a calculation based on hematocrit and reticulocyte values and has a normal range of 70 to 100. Levels above 127 are deemed to be very suspect, and those above 133 are regarded as almost certain proof that someone has doped.
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The revelation will put further pressure on Leipheimer, who was accused by Floyd Landis of having engaged in illegal doping practices during the 2005 Tour de France. According to Landis, both he and Leipheimer were given blood transfusions by Alan Lim during the race.
These and other claims by Landis are currently the subject of a federal investigation led by Jeff Novitzky. Holczer’s statement will increase the pressure on the RadioShack rider, who has always denied blood doping.