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Marion Sicot was suspended for a period of four years by the French Council of State, and cannot return to competition until March 2024.
The four-year ban is retroactive to 2020, and is two years more than the initial term imposed by the UCI, according to an AFP report.
“I don’t have the words. Dejected — it’s not strong enough. I don’t understand,” she told AFP. “I had given all the details, about the harassment, about my product intake. Two years, I thought it was fair, because, it’s true, I made a mistake.”
Also read: Marion Sicot handed two-year suspension
Sicot tested positive for EPO during the French championships on June 27, 2019, and has been suspended since July 2019.
She maintained her innocence until March 8, 2020, when she confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs in an effort to regain the confidence of her Doltcini-Van Eyck team manager, Marc Bracke.
The cyclist filed a complaint with the Montargis prosecutor’s office against Bracke, indicating sexual harassment. This claim is still being investigated.
In June 2021, the UCI suspended Bracke for three years. Four months later, disciplinary proceedings had been opened against him for similar allegations made by two more women.
In her claim against Bracke, Sicot said she was threatened with being kicked off of the team following her refusal to send Bracke photos of herself in underwear. However, she eventually sent photos to her manager, as requested, via WhatsApp.
The members of the AFLD Sanctions Committee, an independent body of the AFLD, verified Sicot’s claims, and ultimately gave her a two-year ban for a doping violation, instead of four years, to the circumstances.
The AFLD had requested a four-year suspension and appealed this decision before the Council of State.
“The four-year suspension corresponds to that normally provided for by the World Anti-Doping Code and the Sports Code for any athlete having intentionally resorted to an administration of EPO,” explained AFLD to AFP. “While special circumstances can be taken into account, still the link between these circumstances and the doping practice must be established, and the Council of State ruled that this was not the situation in this case.”