"I'm very happy and relieved to be cleared by the UCI," Van der Sande wrote on social media on Wednesday. "This afternoon I was notified by the UCI that they won't pursue the case any further and consider the matter closed.
"Unfortunately I was initially depicted as a cycling doper, while I only had to make a statement about how the particular substance was found in my urine. It was merely an adminstrative mistake."
In a statement to the press, Van der Sande’s lawyers said they successfully convinced the UCI Disciplinary Commission that the prednisolone that was found in his urine sample came from the use of a nasal spray, Sofrasolone, which is permitted in competition if declared at the time of the anti-doping test, and that the rider accidentally wrote down the wrong medication in the corresponding paperwork.
"The Disciplinary Commission announced today that they are following our statement and the case is officially closed," said Van der Sande’s lawyer Johnny Maeschalck.
The UCI clarified that the case was not handled by the UCI Disciplinary Commission, which handles misconducts with regards to the UCI Regulations, but rather Van der Sande's case was dealt with by the the service from the UCI administration in charge of results management - namely Legal Anti-Doping Services (LADS).
Sofrasolone is a product that is permitted in competition. However, an athlete must declare its use in the paperwork at the time of the corresponding anti-doping test. Sporza reported that Van der Sande accidentally wrote down the wrong medication, Mometasone Nasal, which is what led to the anti-doping rule violation.
"My sample contained prednisolone, from the nasal spray Sofrasolone," Van der Sande told Het Nieuwsblad. "This nasal spray is freely available, was delivered to me via the team doctor and is admitted within a competition as stated on the doping control form. I took this intranasally. In the hectic situation, the 'Mometasone spray' form was mentioned in error instead of 'Sofrasolone', which is used for the same medical indications. It is therefore only a material error. In the past I used the two nasal sprays alternately, always delivered via a team doctor.”
Van der Sande’s lawyers, Maeschalck and Kristof De Saedeleer, sent his defense to LADS with an explanation for the error, and it was accepted.
Lotto Soudal announced that Van der Sande had returned a positive test in December. The team explained that their rider had informed them of the anti-doping rule violation. At that time, the team did not identify the substance but did say that Van der Sande took "a permitted one and occurs in the nasal spray Sofrasolone, that is freely available and allowed to be used in competition if mentioned during a control"
Lotto Soudal said that Van der Sande would be suspended "in expectation of the investigation executed by the UCI and to allow the rider to underpin his defense in the best possible way".
Van der Sande and six day partner Jasper de Buyst finished third at the Gent Six behind the Quick-Step duo of Elia Viviani and Iljo Keisse. The Baloise Insurance team of Robbe Ghys and Kenny de Ketele finished second.
Van der Sande will now turn his focus toward the road season with Lotto Soudal. "The coming weeks I will fully focus on the start of my new season. I will line up at the Ruta del Sol as initially agreed with the team."
In a written response to Cyclingnews, the UCI confirmed that Van der Sande's case had been closed.
"The UCI confirms that the investigation opened against Mr. Tosh Van der Sande regarding the presence of Prednisolone in the sample collected from him during the 6 Days Flanders Ghent on 18 November 2018, is now closed.
"Prednisolone is listed under section S.9 (Glucocorticoids) of the Prohibited List which is maintained by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). According to the Prohibited List, all Glucocorticoids are prohibited when administered by oral, intravenous, intramuscular or rectal routes. After review of the entire case file, including the explanation and evidence adduced by the rider, the UCI is satisfied that the glucocorticoid detected in the rider sample was administered via an authorised route."