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Apr 16, 2015 – Belgian cyclist Greg Van Avermaet, who strongly denies accusations of steroid use, is facing a two-year ban if found guilty, Belgian cycling federation (RLVB) prosecutor Jaak Fransen said on Thursday.
The rider is suspected of having procured the cortisone Diprophos between 2009-2012 from Belgian doctor Chris Mertens.
The product is banned during competition, but not out of it.
The period under scrutiny covers the build-up to the 2012 Tour of Flanders, where he came fourth. While there is no direct proof – the rider has never tested positive in 98 tests – the prosecutor says email conversations between the rider and his doctor are damning.
Van Avermaet, part of the American BMC team and who came third in last Sunday’s Paris-Roubaix, will learn his fate in a May 7 verdict. The 29-year-old also risks a 260,000 euros (280,000 dollars) fine and having his results from that year scrapped.
“This was about riding on cortisone, not about healing an injury,” claimed Franzen.
“The tone of emails shows a typical attitude of performance enhancement that was prevalent at the time.” The cyclist attended Thursday’s hearing where he produced valid medical certificates concerning a heel injury. “It’s awful having to defend yourself against this type of thing,” he said. “It’s a stain on my reputation. And I’m an honest man and I’m hoping for a just decision.”