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Thursday 30, Apr 2015

  Tom Meeusen Cleared By Belgian Cycling Federation

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Tom Meeusen Cleared By Belgian Cycling Federation

Tom Meeusen, the Cyclo-cross rider from Belgium, has successfully appealed against decision of the Belgian Cycling Federation not to register him at the World Championships after doping suspicion.

The 26-year-old rider, who found himself in an investigation by the Belgian Cycling Federation, was acquitted because of lack of evidence that he made use of performance enhancing substances, Cortisone and Vaminolact. If he was found guilty, Meeusen would have faced a doping ban of two years and a fine of €28,550 and his 2012 results would have been annulled. Meeusen successfully appealed his exclusion at the 2015 cross world championships in the Czech Republic in January because of the ongoing investigation, along with other riders Laurens Sweeck and Bart Wellens.

Sweeck has admitted that he did purchased Vaminolact, injectable amino acids developed as a nutritional source for premature and sick babies, but added that he did not receive illegal ozone treatments from Belgian doctor Chris Mertens. Sweeck was named among 19 athletes linked to a three-year-long investigation into the activities of Merten who was charged with providing ozone treatment, a procedure where blood is extracted and infused with ozone before being injected back into the body.

Article 9.2.002 of the UCI regulations states that a rider against whom an investigation was opened in relation to a breach of anti-doping rules will not be eligible for the World Championships until their definitive acquittal. Stijn Debaene, Partner of Fieldfisher, the firm that defended Meeusen, said the Arbitration Court has only issued a decision without a motive for it, so we do not yet know on which basis they have decided that this rule is not applicable. Debaene added maybe they have decided that this rule is not applicable because there is no investigation that has been initiated against the rider, which is the first thing that we pleaded. Maybe they have said, as they did in the Valverde case, that the rule in and of itself is not a rule which should be applied anyway. But we do not know at this time.

Greg van Avermaet of BMC Racing is now the next high-profile rider to wait on a decision by the Belgian Federation. Avermaet too was associated with Dr Mertens. In April, prosecutors requested for a doping ban of two years and a fine of €262,500 at a hearing. Final decision on the Classics specialist’s fate is expected on May 7.

In January, the Belgian Court for Sport Arbitration (BAS) ruled that Tom Meeusen, Laurens Sweek, and Bart Wellens must be allowed to race the upcoming World Cup and UCI world championships.

Dr Chris Mertens is suspected of providing ozone treatment to 19 athletes, especially to notable cyclo-cross riders. Also known as ozonated autohemotherapy, ozone treatment has the ability to increase the levels of oxygen in the body and is considered illegal under UCI rules.

Pieter Van Herck and Stefan Van Dijk so far have been handed bans as part of the investigation. Herk was given a two-year suspension after being found guilty of ozone-therapy conducted in 2011. Stefan Van Dijk was handed an eight-year suspension and 10,000 Euro fine for ozone therapy. According to Belgian media, Dijk had blood extracted and then infused on certain occasions and took ozone therapy during the 2011 season, in which he rode for Verandas Willems.

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Saturday 07, Mar 2015

  Kevin de Weert And Greg Van Avermaet Plead Innocence

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Kevin de Weert And Greg Van Avermaet Plead Innocence

Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) has been asked by the Belgian Cycling Federation (KBWB-RLVB) to appear before the Disciplinary Commission on March 13 to answer questions in relation to the investigation into Doctor Chris Mertens, along with cyclo-cross stars Bart Wellens and Tom Meeusen.

Van Avermaet pleaded innocence and said he was a patient with Doctor Mertens and he is going to explain himself to the federation, why he was there. The Belgian professional road bicycle racer, currently riding for UCI ProTeam BMC Racing Team, said he doesn’t have anything to blame myself for and he is going to give his explanation and then all will be behind him.

The Belgian cyclist came very close to winning the World Tour race Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec in 2012 and went on to win the Flandrian of the Year award in 2013 because of his consistency in high profile races along with Chris Froome. Van Avermaet won the Flandrian of the year for the second season in a row after he won the GP Impanis-Van Petegem in 2014.

In a press release, BMC Racing Team said it is aware that Van Avermaet was treated by Dr. Mertens, but is unaware of any treatments that would be in violation of any rules. The team added no decision based on the information available to the team at the present time has been made to remove Van Avermaet from active status. It was added the team will continue its investigation and will evaluate new information at such time as it becomes available and added the team will not comment further on the matter at the present time out of respect for Van Avermaet.

Dr Chris Mertens is under investigation for providing ozone treatment to athletes. It is claimed that Mertens allegedly doped blood of athletes with ozone by drawing blood and then enriched it with ozone and transfusing it back into their bodies. Mertens is also accused of encouraging athletes to dope. The Belgian Cycling Federation is investigating Mertens and a list of 19 athletes potentially treated with ozone therapy. Mertens is also accused of prescribing Vaminolact injection. The infant medication is not illegal itself but administering it with an infusion breaks the no-needle policy of the world governing body of cycling, the UCI. The list of athletes reportedly includes prominent Belgian cycling and cyclo-cross riders, including the likes of Tom Meeusen.

In another development, Kevin de Weert said he is not under investigation in the Mertens trial. The Belgian professional road bicycle racer for UCI ProTeam Omega Pharma-Quick Step said he was a patient at doctor Mertens’ practice for a short period of time in 2012, which is close to his home. The cyclist added he received a court letter at the end of 2013 with the request to voluntarily provide them with DNA material as they wanted to close the case and remarked he voluntarily gave samples of his DNA to them in the beginning of 2014. Kevin de Weert also added he does not have to justify himself at the court or his sports federation, because he never received any summons for hearing.

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