Belgian denies having doped, faces two-year ban
Iljo Keisse, the Belgian cyclist who tested positive at his home Six Day in Gent last year, will finally learn the outcome of his protracted doping case on November 2.
The 26-year-old testified in a hearing with the Belgian Cycling Federation on Monday, He reiterated emotionally that he has never taken banned drugs.
A doping control taken during the Gent Six Day in November, 2008, showed traces of cathine, a stimulant, and hydrochloorthiazide (HCT), a diuretic. However, an investigation into the control stated that the original analysis did not include a quantification of the amounts present in Keisse's urine.
The data would have been key to Keisse's assertion that his positive HCT result was the result of his taking a contaminated nutritional supplement called ZMA. The cathine, they argued, is a product of degradation of pseudoephedrine (which is not banned) found in cold medicine.
Keisse hired his own experts to do the evaluation, and the results showed a low level of HCT, consistent, his lawyers contend, with the amounts found in ZMA capsules that were examined.
Several previous cases of athletes testing positive for cathine have been dismissed because of its known origin with cold medicines, which Keisse declared on his original doping control form.
Yet the federation's experts concluded that it was very unlikely that Keisse's positive control was due to ingesting contaminated ZMA, and few athletes who test positive for more than one substance wind up with acquittals.
In defending himself against doping charges, Keisse found himself in more hot water earlier this year when ZMA makers Maximize, which sponsored Keisse's former road team, threatened to sue him for defamation. The company and its distributor had done its own analysis of the supplement and found no trace of HCT.
Keisse has continued to race this year, as an elite-without-contract on the road after being fired from Topsport Vlaanderen. He is also still racing on the track. He will contest the Amsterdam Six Day this week and then start the Grenoble Six Day on October 29.
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