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AFLD requests four-year doping suspension for Sicot

Marion Sicot
Marion Sicot (Image credit: Getty Images)

Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD) has filed an appeal with the French Conseil d'Etat (Council of State) against its Sanctions Commission's decision to hand down a reduced two-year doping suspension to Marion Sicot. Cyclingnews understands that the AFLD and reporting judge in the case have requested that Sicot receive the complete four-year ban for returning a positive test for EPO in 2019.

Sicot tested positive for EPO in a test carried out by the AFLD in June 27, 2019, at the time trial event held at the French Championships. She was provisionally suspended on July 18, 2019. Although she initially denied using EPO, she later admitted to purchasing (opens in new tab) and using the banned substance in an exclusive interview with Stade 2 that aired in March 2020. 

Sicot requested a reduced suspension from the French anti-doping authorities, alleging that her decision to purchase and use EPO (opens in new tab) happened after she experienced months of psychological abuse by former Doltcini-Van Eyck team manager Marc Bracke. The UCI Disciplinary Commission later suspended (opens in new tab) Bracke for three years following the highly-publicised sexual harassment case (opens in new tab) that involved two female cyclists.

The AFLD's Sanctions Commission said it considered the harassment case when it decided to suspend Sicot for two years rather than four. It made its announcement  (opens in new tab)on December 16, 2020. Sicot's lawyer stated, at that time, that it "shows that it punishes athletes who have made mistakes while understanding the context in which the doping practice occurred." Sicot's suspension was supposed to end on July 19, 2021. 

However, the AFLD appealed against its Sanction Commission's decision in March of 2021 at the French Conseil d'Etat. Under Article L 232-23-3-3 (opens in new tab) of the sports code, it has requested that Sicot receive a full four-year suspension for using a non-Specified Substance EPO. 

It also suggested that the Sanctions Commission's use of Article 232-23-3-10 of the sports code, which took into account the "particular circumstances of the case" to reduce the sentence, was not sufficiently reasoned. It suggested that there is no established link between the acts of sexual harassment and the taking of EPO, which was used to justify a reduction in the sanction.

The decision now rests with the French Conseil d'Etat to uphold Sicot's initial reduced two-year suspension or pronounce sanctions of the entire four years, which would be one year longer than Bracke's suspension.

Expecting to be free to return to competition last July, Sicot had begun training to compete in triathlons. The cycling club Châteauneuf-sur-Loire has launched a petition (opens in new tab) title 'Support for Marion Sicot' with more than 700 signatures as of Wednesday, March 9. Christian Passigny, the president of the club, said, "[Marion Sicot] wanted to get out of it, she had chosen the wrong solution, she paid her debt, she tries every day to repay a little more than she has already paid."

Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.