EPO shadow over three riders
Wednesday, July 28, 2004 11.00pm
Dave Bruylandts gets sacked by his team after an EPO positive, while two more riders test positive f
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE As Dave Bruylandts is released from his contract with the Chocolade Jacques team following a positive test for EPO, two more riders have been revealed to have tested positive for the red blood cell-boosting product. The most notable is current world mountain bike champion and former Landbouwkrediet road pro Filip Meirhaeghe. The other is Adam Bergman, who rides for the American division three team Jelly Belly. Bruylandts positive test was taken at the GP Cerami, which takes place in between the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix in April. Chocolade Jacques team boss Noel Demeulenaere told the Belgian media that Bruylandts had been sacked yesterday (Wednesday). "It's a real shame for a rider who has so much talent," said Demeulenaere. "Everyone knows the price that has to be paid for doping. I hope that he is not punished in too severe a way and that he learns from this episode." Bruylandts, 28, claimed recently that his positive test had come about after using homeopathic products suggested by his nutritionist. He will now have to face the Belgian federation's disciplinary panel, who will decide on any ban from competition. Meirhaeghe is arguably a bigger name in Belgian cycling than Bruylandts. The defending world MTB champion and runner-up in the event at the Sydney Olympics, the 33 year old was one of the favourites for off-road gold in Athens next month. He tested positive during an out-of-competition test taken two days before an MTB World Cup event in Quebec last month, which he subsequently won. He also won a World Cup event in Calgary the following week to maintain his lead at the head of the World Cup standings. Speaking at a press conference today (Thursday), Meirhaeghe said he was retiring from competition with immediate effect. "I made a bad decision, but I'm going to be a man about it," he said. "After given this positive test, I am retiring from competition. I learned about the positive test result two days ago and I knew that it would mean the end of my career. Nobody in my personal entourage knew that I had used EPO, not even my girlfriend. I wish to thank all those who have supported me during my career from the bottom of my heart." The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced on Wednesday that Jelly Belly rider Bergman had tested positive for EPO in a control done on April 6. The 23 year old has been provisionally suspended until a hearing to decide on any possible ban can take place.
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