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Meeusen questioned for three hours about blood-doping doctor

By:
Cycling News
Published:
January 10, 2013, 13:01 GMT,
Updated:
January 10, 2013, 13:05 GMT
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Friday, January 11, 2013
Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea)

Tom Meeusen (Telenet-Fidea)

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Belgian 'crosser says nationals this weekend will be “difficult”

Tom Meeusen was questioned by federal prosecutors for three hours Wednesday concerning his connection to Dr. Chris Mertens in an alleged blood doping scheme. The cyclo-cross rider received the public support of his Telenet-Fidea team, but said he does not know how he will do in this weekend's national championships.

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.

Meeusen, like Lotto Belisol's Jurgen van den Broeck, said that he visited Dr. Mertens for treatment of a sinus infection.

His mobile home was searched earlier, and he was held out of last weekend's World Cup race in Rome, but his team has not placed him on inactive status. On Monday, he faced the Belgian cycling federation on the matter. “The interrogation of the federation was not easy, but this (the federal prosecutor, ed.) was even more intense,” he said, according to the Belgian media.

Hans Kasteren, general manage of the Telenet-Fidea team, stands behind his rider. “I looked Tom in the eye and asked, 'Did you use doping?' He denied it. I believe him,” he told sporza.be.

"He has also not been treated with ozone therapy, there is no blood doping. I have it in black and white on paper, signed."

Meeusen, 24, must now turn his mind to the Belgian national 'cross championships this coming weekend, which he admitted was difficult. “Before my questioning on Wednesday I trained in the rain for half an hour, but my head is not there.  I will do my best Sunday in Mol for the people who support me – my father, my girlfriend, the people on the team.”

To add to his problems he acknowledged that the course “is not my thing. It will be a difficult day. With probably many positive but also negative reactions.”

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