Belgian cyclo-crosser Ben Berden, who was caught for using EPO last year, will not serve any additional punishment for the use of illegal drugs, save for his current 15 month ban from cycling. The court in Tongeren, Belgium, determined that after a year-long investigation, while at the same time ordering Berden to pay nearly €60,000 in legal costs.
Although Berden will not end up in jail for using an illegal substance, he still faces a big task to raise the money. "I was baffled when I learned of it," he told Sportwereld.be. "I don't know how to even start. This morning I still was thinking to pick up the threads after my suspension runs out in April. Now it's all gone, nothing makes sense."
Berden heard the news on Tuesday, and it wasn't well received. "When I told my wife how much it was, she left and I don't know where she went," he said. "I don't see any future. My money is all gone in lawyer's fees. I'm selling my Harley and will do the same thing with my house.
"I'm still not a criminal. I made a sporting error and never had a problem admitting that. Taking EPO was wrong but I wasn't selling drugs to schoolkids and I wasn't a dealer."
Berden's problems may not have finished, however, as the public prosecutor in Tongeren is expected to appeal against the court's decision not to pursue Berden. Although Berden admitted to using EPO once only, a search of his home on January 3 this year turned up other forbidden products.