French cyclist Marion Sicot was handed a two-year suspension by the French Anto-Doping Agency (AFLD) for injecting EPO.
The 28-year-old was provisionally suspended on July 18, 2019, as a result of a positive test on June 27, 2019.
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The Frenchwoman will be eligible to race in July 2021, as her attorney was successful in lobbying for a reduction from the initial four-year ban proposed by the AFLD.
This decision “shows that it sanctions the athletes who have faulted everything by understanding the context in which the doping practice took place,” Sicot’s lawyer Antoine Woimant said in a statement.
Sicot claimed to have used the banned performance enhancer in hopes of improving her performances and regaining the trust of her Doltcini-Van Eyck team manager, Belgian Marc Bracke.
She “sought all the more to improve herself and to achieve sports performances that she wanted to escape from these unhealthy relationships … it is in this particularly difficult context, which cannot be ignored that Ms. Sicot has decided to resort to doping,” added AFLD in its decision.
VeloNews reported in October 2020 that Bracke had been suspended for violation of the organization’s code of ethics when he repeatedly demanded Sicot send him photographs of herself wearing only swimwear or underwear
When Sicot refused to continue providing Bracke with photos, she claims she was sidelined by Bracke.
According to the AFLD sanctions commission decision, “Mr. Bracke ‘repeatedly imposed on this 26-year-old sportswoman a humiliating behavior with a sexual connotation and which obviously did not no sporting justification,’ and ‘engaged in sexual harassment all the more inadmissible since he knew the precariousness of the young woman and could not ignore the hold he exercised over her because of his managerial duties’.”
In May of 2020, Sicot filed a complaint of sexual harassment against Bracke, which led to a police investigation. Sicot brought the allegations after she tested positive for EPO at the French championships and later admitted to taking EPO to appease Bracke.
Sicot’s attorney claimed that Bracke made more than 20 written requests for photos taken from various angles of Sicot wearing a bikini, and regularly inquired as to Sicot’s relationship status and sexual orientation.
The UCI’s disciplinary committee began proceedings last fall on how to punish Bracke.
AFP contributed to this report.