The Gent Court of Appeal has ordered that Frank Vandenbroucke must pay a fine of €250,000 for breaking the Belgian drug laws. However, the court ruled that he will not have to perform his 200 hours of community service on the grounds that he has already served a sporting sanction for his misdemeanours.
The court case started when police found numerous illegal medical products in a search of Vandenbroucke's home in February, 2002, including morphine, clenbuterol, and EPO. He was sacked from his team and given a six month suspension by the Belgian cycling federation, as well as having to deal with a court case. He appealed his six month ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and achieved a partial victory, with the ban being reduced to only applying to racing in Flanders.
In November 2004, the court in Dendermonde recommended that Vandenbroucke be given a light penalty for breaking the Belgian drug laws. The public prosecutor in the case, Philip Van Linthout, asked that Vandenbroucke did community service instead. However, VDB's lawyer, Luc Deleu, argued that the six month sporting sanction should have been enough, and they appealed. But today's ruling that a heavy fine would be better than community service maintains the line that Vandenbroucke is being penalised as a drug user, rather than an athlete who is doping.
"VDB had too many products in his house to just be considered doping," said the Gent Court of Appeal. "Furthermore, a number of these products aren't even able to be used as stimulants." If Vandenbroucke doesn't pay the €250,000 fine, he risks a three month jail term.
"VDB is a narcissistic figure with huge psychological problems, partly due to the media interest," continued the Court. "Therefore he became arrogant and lost all sense of reality. He is a drug addict and someone with marital problems and a drinking problem. But VDB has had trouble getting his life together. A €250,000 fine is the best solution."
Vandenbroucke's lawyer was disappointed with the ruling, but said that his client would not seek to have the sentence quashed.