24-year-old Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea) will not be allowed to race in this weekend's UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup. The Belgian federation decided to leave him at home after he was linked to a doctor who is under investigation for doping.
Telenet-Fidea manager Hans van Kasteren insisted that Meeusen was not a suspect in the investigation. "Tom is part of an investigation into a doctor," van Kasteren said to Sporza. "He visited the doctor and that's why he's been dragged into this. He's definitely not a suspect in the doping investigation, because then he'd be suspended, by both the federation and the team."
Meeusen is due to be questioned by the prosecutor next week, but will be kept from the weekend's competition. "It's a drastic decision to keep him out of the World Cup, but the federation has to obey the laws of the UCI," van Kasteren said.
Meeusen was devastated by the news, taking to Twitter to protest his innocence. "I am part of a doping investigation, but I have nothing to hide. I am not a cheater!" Meeusen stated.
The 2012-2013 'cross season has been a near disaster for Meeusen. He made the podium only twice, in Kalmthout and Sint-Niklaas, and had three weeks out of competition following a dramatic crash on a sand dune descent in the Zonhoven Superprestige that damaged his ribs.
"I am just now fully recovered from all of the problems that plagued me in the last two months," Meeusen said. "It started when I was on the road to the 'cross in Diegem and suddenly I was stopped by the police. That is when my camper was searched, and of course they found nothing. I think it is terribly unfortunate that I cannot start in Rome. My father was already there with the camper."
Meeusen will be replaced with Crelan-KDL rider Sven Vanthourenhout.