The Belgium Cycling Federation has included Tom Meeusen and Under 23 national champion Laurens Sweeck in its squad for the world cyclo-cross championships in Tabor, respecting the decision of the Belgian Court of Arbitration for Sport that ruled that sporting criteria for selection had to be followed.
The two, along with Bart Wellens, were held out of the Belgian team for the races due to an investigation into their physician Chris Mertens, who is suspected of providing illegal ozone blood treatments to athletes.
The federation ruled last week that it could exclude the three riders from the races under UCI rules which state: "A rider against whom an investigation was opened in relation to a fact which may cause a breach of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules, will not be eligible for the World Championships or is not authorised to participate to the World Championships until the end of the suspension or until his definitive acquittal.”
However Meeusen argued that he had not violated any anti-doping rules, and had only visited the doctor to have sinus problems treated. He denied ever having ozone treatment or any kind of blood manipulation. Although the case has been going on since 2013, new information was provided to prosecutors last week, according to the Belgian Federation. The Belgian Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in his favour and thanks to being amongst the top three ranked Belgian riders in the world, Meeusen was assured of selection. Sweeck earned his place as under 23 national champion.
The full Belgium elite team is Tom Meeusen, Sven Nys, World Cup winner Kevin Pauwels, Rob Peeters, Wout Van Aert, Klaas Vantournout and Gianni Vermeersch. Jens Adams and Tim Merlier are the reserves.
The Under 23 men's team is Toon Aerts, Quinten Hermans, Yannick Peeters, Diether Sweeck, Laurens Sweeck and Michael Vanthourenhout.
World Cup winner Sanne Cant leads the Belgian women's team, with Loes Salts, Ellen Van Loy and Jolien Verschueren completing the squad.
The junior and under 23 men will compete in Tabor, in the Czech Republic, on Saturday January 31, the elite women and elite women will compete on Sunday February 1.
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