Greg Van Avermaet has insisted that he is confident of being cleared of doping despite the fact that the Belgian Cycling anti-doping prosecutor has officially requested a two-year ban for him following an investigation into his links with Dr. Chris Mertens and suspected anti-doping offences.
Van Avermaet, who is competing for BMC Racing at the Tour de Yorkshire, told Cyclingnews that his ‘pretty confident’ of being cleared during next week’s hearing, where he will learn his fate. Along with a two-year ban he also faces a €262,500 fine.
Dr. Mertens is suspected of carrying out banned ozone treatment for several riders, including Van Avemaet, and although the BMC rider has admitted working with the doctor, he remains adamant that he has nothing to hide.
“For me it’s not a joke, I have to take it seriously because if you hear the ban and the amount of money I’d have to pay it’s crazy,” Van Avermaet told Cyclingnews at the start of stage 1 in Yorkshire.
“For me I’ll be happy when it’s over. It’s already been going on for two and half years. Finally there will be a day when I’m free and I can focus entirely on cycling. I’m confident that there will be no ban. I did nothing wrong and there’s nothing to say.”
Asked why he thought the Belgian prosecutor were seeking a two-year ban if the rider believed he was innocent, Van Avermaet responded: “There was only one solution, all or nothing, and the commission has to decide what’s going on. I hope that they make a good decision and I’m pretty confident because if the ban happens then my world is coming down for something that I didn’t do.”
According to reports in the Belgian media, the Royale Ligue Vélocipédique Belge accusations against Van Avermaet focus on the use of two other medicines: the corticoid Diprophos, which is only banned in competition but can be used with a medical certificate, and Vaminolact, a fortifying baby food that helps improve recovery, and is banned if injected. Van Avermaet's defence claimed he was given a prescription for the substance but never took it to a pharmacy.
A report on Sporza last month outlined that the case against Van Avermaet is based on an email exchange between Mertens and the rider. They reported that Van Avermaet was treated with Diprophos, under medical supervision, for a heel problem that still causes him problems. His lawyer insisted that he used the corticoid for treatment, not to boost his performance in races.
BMC have refused to comment on the case but have continued to field Van Avermaet in races throughout the spring.