Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto Belisol) has admitted to visiting the doctor at the centre of a Belgian doping investigation but insisted that his consultations were for purely medical reasons.
The inquiry is understood to be focused on the activities of Rotselaar-based doctor Chris Mertens. Tom Meeusen was pulled from the Belgian team for the cyclo-cross World Cup in Rome at the weekend when he was interviewed by investigators regarding his relationship with the doctor.
Speaking to reporters in an impromptu press briefing at the Lotto Belisol training camp in Bénicassim on Monday, Van Den Broeck said that he, too, had consulted the doctor.
“To make things clear, I have to say that I also consulted this doctor a few times for the good and simple reason that I was ill with a sinus problem and I had to take care of it, and my team doctor Jan Mathieu was unavailable because he was abroad at the time,” Van Den Broeck said, according to La Dernière Heure.
Asked why he had not simply visited his family doctor for treatment, Van Den Broeck said that he needed to see a doctor who had a sound knowledge of what products are on WADA’s prohibited list.
“I preferred to go to him because it’s not far from where I live, but also because he’s a sports doctor. Given the very long list of things that a rider can’t take, out of security I prefer to consult a good doctor who knows what you can or can’t take, a person in whom I can have confidence,” Van Den Broeck said.
Reports in the Belgian media have suggested that the doctor is under investigation 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.
“I don’t know what that is,” Van Den Broeck said. “This matter is annoying but I haven’t done anything wrong and I haven’t even been questioned by the investigators.”
Van Den Broeck also revealed that he will forgo the Ardennes classics in 2013 in order to ride the Tour de Romandie as part of his build-up to the Tour de France. “It’s not that I don’t like them but I’ve never gone well there,” he said. “There’s always something that doesn’t go for me.
“I’d rather skip them and do the Tour de Romandie instead. As a stage race, it’s better suited to me and I have more of a chance of picking up World Tour points.”