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Denise Betsema free to race as UCI announces back-dated six-month ban

Denis Betsema racing 2018 Azencross part of the DVV trophy series
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The UCI announced that Denise Betsema was sanctioned with a six-month ban from cycling following her positive test for an anabolic androgenic steroid last year.

Now eligible to compete again with immediate effect, she will rejoin her old team Marlux-Bingoal – now known as Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal. According to Sporza.be, she will race at Kasteelcross on Saturday.

The Dutch rider tested positive at the UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup round in Hoogerheide on January 27 and at the Superprestige round in Middelkerke on February 16. She was then provisionally suspended after the finding came to light.

The UCI stated that Betsema's suspension started on April 5, 2019 and ended October 4, 2019.

"The case was resolved by acceptance of consequences in accordance with the World Anti-Doping Code and the UCI Anti-Doping Regulations. The resolution is subject to appeal by the National Anti-Doping Organisation of the Netherlands and the World Anti-Doping Agency," the press release stated.

Betsema, who burst onto the scene with 15 victories – including a UCI World Cup win in Koksijde – in the 2018-19 season, has proclaimed her innocence throughout the process.

In an Instagram post last year, she stated: "I have never used prohibited drugs and have never been tested positive throughout the year. We are really stunned and in shock. I will do everything in my power to clear my name as soon as possible."

Moments after the UCI's announcement, Betsema took to Instagram to post a video of her riding in Pauwels Sauzen kit, saying, "Yes, I can cross again immediately! Extremely happy and relieved with this good news. I'll tell you more about it tomorrow."

UCI and WADA rules state that any level of anabolic steroids in an athlete's sample constitute an anti-doping rule violation, unlike other substances that have minimum thresholds.

Although the minimum sanction for a positive steroid test would typically be four years, the UCI anti-doping rules provide for reduced bans for unintentional anti-doping rule violations (10.2.1.1).

For cases such as contaminated products, the UCI rules allow for punishment anywhere from a reprimand to two years suspension "depending on the Rider’s degree of Fault" (10.5.1.2).

Betsema will hold a press conference on Tuesday.