Trial: schumacher first confident, then defensive

Trial: schumacher first confident, then defensive

Stefan schumacher’s sovereignty is abruptly gone. The professional cyclist answered the questions of judge martin friedrich calmly and calmly.

But when prosecutor peter holzwarth leans forward in the regional court in stuttgart and slams the sentences down on the confessed doper, schumacher crosses his arms, barely noticeably shaking his head. Which doctor at his former team gerolsteiner told him about the epo drug CERA and gave it to him? Schumacher does not want to answer at the start of the fraud trial. Not again.

Already during the questioning by friedrich, the 31-year-old nurtinger refused to give names of previously unknown helpers. "The people were part of the system, just as I was part of the system," schumacher said on the sidelines of the trial. "People wanted to help me, funny as that sounds."He will therefore "not denounce anyone" in the hearing. But he reaffirmed the will to cooperate with the anti-doping agencies WADA and NADA.

The two-time stage winner in the tour de france had to face the questions in the partly gloomy courtroom because he is accused of fraud. The public prosecutor’s office has charged him with defrauding his former team boss hans-michael holczer of three monthly salaries amounting to 151,463.50 euros. Schumacher had denied doping in the 2008 tour de france and therefore received the money illegally. Afterwards schumacher had been tested positive like at the olympic games in peking. The international sports court had banned him for this until august 2010.

Before the trial began, schumacher had admitted in interviews that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs over a period of years after denying it. In addition to confessing, the cyclist, who now rides for the danish team christina watches, also used the platforms to accuse his former team leader of complicity.

Holczer could not have been cheated by him – because he must have known about the doping and tolerated it. Former gerolsteiner pros bernhard kohl, davide rebellin and levi leipheimer are also convicted dopers. Schumacher also defended this version in court. At first open-minded and calm, later visibly irritated by holzwarth’s inquiries.

"It was never said, but it was a form of communication where it was clear what was being played," is how swabian described the situation in the mineral water producer’s racing stable. In a conversation after his victory in the amstel gold race in 2007, holczer asked about connections to the spanish doping doctor eufemiano fuentes, for example. When schumacher denied it, holczer’s reaction was: "i think you drive relatively cleanly for a world-class driver".

The defense strategy of his lawyers michael lehner and dieter rossner was thus already clear on the first of eight scheduled days of the trial. Since holczer had known about the practices of his drivers, he could not have been cheated by schumacher either. Rossner even accused holczer of having a purely financial interest in the lawsuit. "It’s not about the sport. It’s all about mr. Holczer’s wealth."The 59-year-old teacher is scheduled to be arraigned on the second day of the trial on 18 may. April testify as a witness.

Latest on 4. The verdict in the trial is due in june – and by then, despite schumacher’s refusal, other names will probably also be known. "There are still witnesses. I think by the time of the sentencing hearing we will know names," lehner said.

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