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Marion Sicot handed two-year suspension for doping

Marion Sicot
Marion Sicot (Image credit: Getty Images)

Marion Sicot has been handed a two-year suspension by the Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage (AFLD), a decision made by its Sanctions Commission on December 16, L'Equipe reported on Tuesday. 

Sicot tested positive for EPO in a test carried out by the AFLD at the French time trial championships on June 27, 2019 and was provisionally suspended on July 18, 2019. The retroactive suspension means that Sicot will be able to return to competition this July.

Sicot initially denied using EPO, but she later admitted to it in an exclusive interview with Stade 2 that aired last March. 

She faced a four-year ban, however she requested a reduced suspension from the French anti-doping authorities, alleging that her decision to purchase and use EPO happened after she experienced months of psychological abuse by her Doltcini-Van Eyck team manager Marc Bracke.

Last March, the UCI Ethics Commission opened its investigation into Doltcini-Van Eyck and Bracke after two riders – Sicot and Sara Youmans – alleged Bracke requested photos of them in their "panties and bra" and "bikini".

The UCI announced last October that its Ethics Commission had determined that Bracke was guilty of violating the Code of Ethics following the formal complaints of harassment alleged by two female riders.

Cyclingnews has reached out to Bracke and the Doltcini-Van Eyck team for a comment regarding Sicot's allegations. However, neither have responded to our detailed messages.

Following Sicot’s allegations in March, Doltcini-Van Eyck team released a statement admitting that Bracke had demanded regular photos of Sicot in a bikini, but argued: "This is a practice that was normal in earlier times – many people inside cycling know that." At that time, the team also accused Sicot of pretending to be depressed and "making use of the actual #MeToo-mood" to get a shorter doping suspension.

L'Equipe reported that in the decision, the AFLD Sanctions Commission noted that Bracke "repeatedly imposed on this 26-year-old athlete a humiliating behavior with a sexual connotation and which obviously had no sporting justification" and "Indulged in sexual harassment all the more inadmissible since he knew the precariousness of the young woman's situation and could not ignore the hold he exercised over her because of his managerial duties."

According to L'Equipe, the AFLD also noted that Sicot had "sought all the more to improve and achieve sporting performances as she wished to escape these unhealthy relationships (...) It is in this particularly difficult context, which cannot be ignored that Ms. Sicot has decided to resort to doping."

Sicot's lawyer, Antoine Woimant, has stated that the AFLD's decision to reduce Sicot's suspension to two years followed its consideration of her harassment case, and "shows that it punishes athletes who have made mistakes while understanding the context in which the doping practice occurred."

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the 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 cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.