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BRUSSELS (VN) — According to a report by Belgian network Sporza, Tom Meeusen appears likely to miss the 2015 world cyclocross championships in Tabor, Czech Republic. It will be the second world championships he has missed, thanks to his association with doctor Chris Mertens, who is himself embroiled in a doping investigation. Mertens has been implicated in a years-long judicial investigation into his use of so-called ozone therapy, which involved infusing athlete’s blood with ozone, a procedure that is banned under UCI restrictions on the use of blood transfusions.
In 2013, Belgian authorities stopped Meeusen’s camper on the way to a World Cup race in Rome, due to the investigation, and the Belgian cycling federation subsequently blocked him from international competition. Meeusen missed the world championship race in Louisville, Kentucky, as a result of that temporary ban.
Meeusen — who has steadfastly denied any involvement in doping — was later cleared for competition, but the reappearance of his name in a doping investigation means he is once again excluded from the world championship race, set to take place February 1. In 2014 he finished fifth in the world championships in Hoogerheide, Netherlands. It appeared his career was back on track before the surprising omission of his name from Belgium’s worlds roster today brought his role in the investigation back into the spotlight.
Meeusen responded on Twitter Monday, writing, “Painful, both on a human and sporting level that I cannot defend my rights/opportunities.. #unfair.”
The Sporza report also lists Meeusen’s Telenet-Fidea teammate Bart Wellens and U23 star Laurens Sweeck (Corendon-KwadrO) as likely absences from the Belgian team for Tabor as well; both are allegedly also named in doping investigations.
Wellens, suffering from back problems and uneven form this season, would have been a surprising addition to the team anyway, but Sweeck was the likely favorite following the announcement that U23 standouts Wout Van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) had opted to race with the elites this year.
The complete Belgian men’s worlds roster features Tim Merlier, Sven Nys, Kevin Pauwels, Rob Peeters, Wout Van Aert, Klaas Vanornout, and Gianni Vermeersch. Belgium will also send four women to Tabor: Sanne Cant, Loes Sels, Ellen Van Loy, and Jolien Verschueren.