‘Lion of Flanders’ Johan Museeuw is challenging the four-year ban he has been given by the Belgian f
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Recently retired Classics star Johan Museeuw has announced that he is going to take legal action against the Belgian federation following their imposition of a four-year ban on him for as yet unrevealed doping offences. According to Museeuw’s lawyer, Jozef Lievens, the 1996 world champion will be challenging the competence of the Belgian federation’s disciplinary commission to make a judgement on Museeuw’s alleged offences. Lievens will also be challenging the federation for alleged breach of the principle of presumption of innocence and violating the right to secrecy demanded during an active court case in Belgium. Lievens has also said that the legal principle of disciplinary procedures having to remain in abeyance until criminal investigations have been completed has also been ignored by the Belgian federation. Museeuw, who retired from racing last April, was suspended for four years, two of them suspended, by the federation in October. Belgian federation president Cyriel Coomans has expressed his disappointment about Museeuw’s latest legal move. “This case seems a bit weak to me. Johan Museeuw knows that there were regulations to which he had to adhere as long as he was affiliated to the Belgian federation, even if he might not be affiliated to it now. He has transgressed certain articles relating to doping and has been sanctioned for that,” Coomans told the Belgian press. “It’s a shame for Johan but he won’t get out of this in this way, and will eventually have to accept this verdict.” The ban stems from information that has only so far been disclosed within the confines of a Belgian court as part of an ongoing case involving soigneur Herman Versele and veterinarian Jos Landuyt, who have been accused of supplying animal hormones and doping products to members of the Belgian peloton. As well as Museeuw, Chris Peers and Jo Planckaert have also been suspended by the federation for alleged offences stemming from this case.