Leukemans calls for acquittal

Björn Leukemans fronted a Flemish disciplinary committee on Tuesday after testing positive for...

Björn Leukemans fronted a Flemish disciplinary committee on Tuesday after testing positive for testosterone late last year, which subsequently lead to a two year ban from the sport. Leukemans' lawyer, Johnny Maeschalk, asked for an acquittal on the grounds that the rider had a prescription from his team doctor for the medicine which contained testosterone.

"An acquittal for Björn Leukemans, that is the only possible solution in this case," Maeschalk told the court on Tuesday.

Leukemans tested positive for testosterone in an out of competition test at the end of September last year, right before the World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. The 30 year-old received a two year suspension mid-January.

According to Leukemans the positive control was due to a medicine he had taken in good faith, having received a Prasteron prescription from his Predictor-Lotto team doctor. Leukemans, who had brought the medicine package with him to an earlier court session, brought the handwritten prescription from the doctor.

"This is a unique phenomenon that an athlete can prove the submission that he is innocent," Maeschalk said. "There is in this case no question of a grey zone. There is a formal document. What more could Björn do? He asked Sam Vermeire (the former team doctor) if Prasteron could constitute a problem, which Vermeire denied.

"How can a cyclist do more?" questioned Maeschalk. "Should he spend nine years studying and constantly keep himself up to date with the medical industry? Both Prasteron and the active ingredient DHEA are not on the Flemish list of banned products. I repeat, what more could Björn do?"

Maeschalk also presented the WADA code, which delves deeper into the domain of risk liability. The code states that when a doping case is identified, a "reasonable balance" should be applied, and in some cases a violation can not result in a sanction even though in black and white there has been a breach of the rules. "That is the case in this case," said Maeschalk. "There is a violation, but we have proof that the presumption of innocence shows."

A decision on the case is scheduled to be made on March 11.

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