Novel defence from De Clercq
Monday, October 11, 2004 11.00pm
After being recalled to give more evidence at a Kortrijk court, three-time world cyclo-cross champio
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE The court investigating the Landuyt-Versele affair in the Belgian city of Kortrijk has confirmed that it has recalled three-time world cyclo-cross champion Mario de Clercq to give evidence in the case. The news comes after Belgian paper Het Nieuwsblad revealed over the weekend that a human growth hormone, Somatropine, and a book on the use of red blood cell-boosting product Aranesp had been found by Belgian police in De Clercq's home in September 2003. Along with Johan Museeuw, Chris Peers, Jo Planckaert, Nico Hendrickx and Oliver Penny, De Clercq was questioned during the early stages of an investigation into alleged trafficking of growth hormones by veterinarian Jos Landuyt and soigneur Herman Versele. Of the six, cyclo-cross specialist De Clercq is the only one who has not been banned by the Belgian federation based on information from the Landuyt-Versele case that has yet to be made public. While De Clercq's lawyer has described the release of the information as "shameful" and "a violation of a defendant's right to secrecy", the Het Nieuwsblad story also revealed that De Clercq's training diaries regularly featured details of his red blood cell count. The rider himself has offered a defence of the apparent breaches of doping regulations, telling Het Nieuwsblad: "The annotations [in the training diaries] were fictitious, I just put them in as preparation for a novel that I am planning to write." De Clercq was backed up by his manager, Charles Palmans, who said of the rider's possession of a pamphlet on the use of Aranesp: "Someone gave it to him so that he could know a bit more about the use of that product. As a rider he is interested in a lot of things but he has never used this substance."
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