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Full circle: Iljo Keisse was back in action on home turf, having experienced a difficult year.
Belgian can ride again after court temporarily lifts suspension
Iljo Keisse is looking forward to riding the Gent Six Day after the Belgian Court of Appeals temporarily lifted his doping-related suspension. The court overturned a decision by the Court of Appeal for Sport, with a final decision due in April.
“I will ride the Six-Day with a very special and warm feeling,” Keisse said, according to the Belga news agency. “I'm more than relieved that I can ride again. Unfortunately the decision is not final, but I'm satisfied with what I have.”
Keisse tested positive for Cathine and Hydrochlorothiazide (HCT) at the 2008 Gent Six Day, which he won with partner Robert Bartko. He argued that the Cathine came from a cold medication and the HCT from a tainted food supplement.
The charges were dismissed by the Belgian cycling federation, but the CAS reversed that decision this summer and issued the ban which was to run through August 2011.
Keisse knows that riding again will be difficult. "It is mentally and physically a very difficult race. . Indeed, I have a difficult period behind me. Since July I could not race. There were some days which I didn't touch my bike, I had an Achilles injury and some incredible black moments.”
Keisse will have extra motivation because his first child, Jules, was born earlier this month. “It's difficult to say how I will feel. I will have to ride with the support of the audience, the adrenaline and the feeling of becoming a father,” he said.
Race organizer applauds decision
Patrick Sercu, the director of the Gent Six Day was pleased with the court's ruling. "This is not only great news for the organizers of the Ghent Six Day, but especially for Iljo Keisse himself," he said Sercu.
“The public's favourite is now back,” he continued. “This is actually a very good thing. It has all been long and drawn out, but now it has finally happened.”
Sercu has another reason to be happy. “Of course, ticket sales are rising. With Iljo Keisse, we have added a very big name on the billing.”