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Belgian court continuing investigation of ozone-therapy doctor

By:
Cycling News
Published:
February 09, 2013, 22:04 GMT,
Updated:
February 09, 2013, 22:07 GMT
Edition:
Second Edition Cycling News, Saturday, February 9, 2013
It's all about blood - performance-enhancing methods abound in pro cycling

It's all about blood - performance-enhancing methods abound in pro cycling

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“Dozens” of athletes, including pro cyclists, said to be questioned

The Belgian doping-related investigation of Dr. Chris Mertens has expanded to include a number of professional and recreational athletes, including cyclists. The matter first came to public attention when cyclo-cross rider Tom Meeusen was stopped by the police for questioning on his way to a race.

Het Laatste Nieuws reported Saturday that the court conducting the investigation intends to question “dozens” of athletes.  “Last week nineteen athletes were interviewed, including several cyclists and five pros,” it said.

Meeusen earlier had his camper searched by police and the team held him out of several races. He was questioned for three hours by federal investigators last month. The 'cross racer, who has denied any doping, is said not to be the subject of the investigation but merely a possible witness against Mertens.

Lotto Belisol's Jurgen Van Den Broeck has also said that he has visited the doctor, but only for legitimate medical purposes.

The Belgian doctor is under investigation for for the alleged practice of ozone therapy, an undetectable form of blood doping in which blood is extracted, mixed with ozone and then re-injected.

The Belgian newspaper said that “The court will actually hear any athlete who consulted the doctor since 2007. The investigators are particularly interested in the so-called ozone therapy that the doctor used.

"Strictly speaking, such therapy itself is not doping. But it is very often used in combination with other drugs that are prohibited. This is being examined.”

A court spokeswoman said only that “The investigation is not over yet and there are still several people to be heard.”

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