In the News: 19 athletes implicated in Belgian blood-doping scandal

The Belgian press is reporting that 19 professional riders have been implicated in a doping investigation of Dr. Chris Mertens

Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad is reporting that 19 athletes, mostly cyclists, are involved in a blood-doping scandal.

After a 2.5-year investigation, a prosecutor in Leuven, Belgium is seeking to bring Dr. Chris Mertens to trial.

Mertens, the report says, is suspected to have performed blood transfusions with ozone, which involves drawing blood, infusing it with ozone, and then putting it back into the body. Martens is also accused of having turned athletes on to doping.

Blood transfusions are banned under WADA Code.

The report claims that no fewer than 19 athletes — the majority famous and semi-famous road and cyclocross riders — are risking a suspension.

The online report is a synopsis of a larger print article.

The report states that Het Nieuwsblad has knowledge of 19 athletes who are named in the dossier, but it did not list the names in either online or print stories

In 2013, Tom Meeusen (Fidea) was not allowed to race the cyclocross World Cup in Rome, and was questioned by prosecutors about his connection to Mertens.

Also in January, 2013, De Morgen reported that Jurgen Van den Broeck had visited Mertens, but the Lotto-Belisol rider claimed that he was only seeking treatment for inflamed sinuses.

Sporza reports that Leuven authorities have a deadline of November 14 to decide whether the case merits a court case.

Editor’s note: Check back for more updates on this developing story.