There was good and bad news for Frank Vandenbroucke on Wednesday as he was narrowly denied a stage w
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Frank Vandenbroucke’s lawyers have announced that the 30-year-old Belgian rider will not have to pay a 250,000-euro fine imposed after he was found guilty of possession of doping products. The fine was handed down last year by a court in Ghent, but an appeal court in Brussels has decided that the fine was too large, stating that, “Mr Vandenbroucke should have been judged according to the common law as an addict and not as a doped athlete”.
According to Vandenbroucke’s lawyer, Luc Deleu, the rider will now face a new trial at the Belgian court of appeal over the affair that stems from a raid by the Belgian police on Vandenbroucke’s home in February 2002. Among products police are alleged to have found were EPO, human growth hormone, adrenalin, testosterone, morphine and amphetamines.
Vandenbroucke was subsequently suspended from racing by the Flemish government from September 2002 until February 2003. His lawyers have been claiming that the imposition of the fine effectively meant that VDB was punished twice for the same crime, which is against Belgian law.
Having contacted his wife, Sarah, in Belgium to be informed of the news on Wednesday morning, Vandenbroucke’s spirits seemed to have been lifted as he got into the break of the day with four others on the fourth stage of the Ruta del Sol, where he is riding for the Unibet.com team. “I felt I was the strongest, especially on the hills. But I couldn’t break from the others too early,” said Vandenbroucke.
In the event, he attacked on the last hill and was followed by Czech Jan Hruska. Unfortunately for both riders, they were overhauled by the bunch just 300 metres from the finish line in Ronda.