Pressure on Bjarne Riis Increases Further
Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank owner Bjarne Riis is finding himself in an increasingly tight spot as pressure for him to comment on the accusations made by Tyler Hamilton rises further in his home country of Denmark.
Several Danish media entities have asked Riis to comment on the doping accusations against him which surfaced in Hamilton's book, "The Secret Race." The book was released just after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report on Lance Armstrong, which showed organized doping within the US Postal and Discovery Channel professional cycling teams.
Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank is currently carrying out a team training camp on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria. Here Danish reporters have persistently asked Riis to either comment himself on the accusations made against him or for him to issue a statement. Riis so far has refused to respond to these requests in any manner.
The Head of the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark, Niels Nygaard, now voices his opinion on the matter to Danish daily Berlingske Tidende.
Nygaard finds that as the owner of a privately held company, Riis is not required to comment on anything. However, being one of Denmark's most important role models in the sports sector, he should speak out.
"The higher one's position in the system is and the bigger a role model one is, the higher degree of ethical responsibility one has," Nygaard tells Berlingske adding he finds it "remarkable" that Riis hasn't commented on the accusations against him yet.
Tom Lund - Chairman of Denmark’s Cycling Union (Danmarks Cykle Union/DCU), is also critical of Riis' way of handling the situation and calls for Riis to speak out.
"We are in the midst of the process of cleaning up the sport of cycling. Therefore, it is important that all facts are made public," he tells BT.
The Chairman of Team Danmark - the organization responsible for organizing elite-level sport in Denmark - is also pointing his finger at Riis.
"It would serve both the sport of cycling as a whole and Bjarne (Riis) as team owner, to provide the public with the information and data needed to clarify the matter as well as at all possible. This matter is very much about trust," Michael Andersen says.
On Friday it was revealed that the Danish counterpart to USADA, the Anti-Doping Denmark (ADD), is considering setting up a similar investigatory unit. USADA uncovered an organized doping scheme which implicated now disgraced rider Lance Armstrong, Team US Postal Service, Team Discovery Channel and parts of their team management structures.
At this point in time ADD's only weapon in the fight against doping in sports is testing. Anti-Doping Denmark, however, finds this weapon to be insufficient and is appealing to politicians to support their request to fund a special investigatory unit.
According to General Manager of Anti-Doping Denmark Lone Hansen the organization has yet to decide whether it will look into matters related to Riis. "We haven't made a decision yet and should we decide to press charges against any persons, the persons who will be called as witnesses will need to be informed about this first."
It appears that Riis, to an increasing degree, is finding himself in an untenable position