By Hedwig Kröner
Former Bouygues Telecom rider Franck Bouyer has started training again with the perspective of a possible return to competition. The Frenchman is suffering from narcolepsy, an illness resulting in uncontrollable sleep attacks, and has to take a medication to treat his condition – unfortunately, this medication (modafinil) is on the list of banned, performance-enhancing substances, which is why he was prohibited from racing by the UCI in March 2004 and subsequently dismissed by his team at the end of 2006.
In early 2007, Bouyer resorted to a French court in his pledge to obtain a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) and return to racing, and has now won his appeal against the UCI in front of the civil court in Bobigny. "Finally, someone agrees with me and considers me ill," the 33 year-old told L'Equipe on Friday last week. Bouyer has always maintained that the doses of modafinil he has to take in order not to fall asleep uncontrollably do not enhance his performance in any way, and that there are ways to make sure he does not exceed the necessary amounts. "But I've had so many setbacks until now, so I won't get too excited about it. Now I have to submit my dossier to an expert doctor named by the court, who will examine the case. If he renders a favourable verdict, his decision would overthrow the UCI's and WADA's."
Still, Bouyer does not know if or when he could come back to his profession – in which case Bouygues Telecom manager Jean-René Bernaudeau would be ready to take him back right away. Even though the former pro hasn't touched a bike since the beginning of the year, this latest turn of events has given him hope, and moreover revived his will to be up front about his case. "To me, it's a question of principle," he added. "I don't want to disappear from the scene as if I had the plague."
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