By Agence France Presse
Belgian cyclist Frank Vandebroucke on Wednesday won an appeal to the Belgian supreme court in Brussels, overturning a judgment that he pay a 250.000-euro fine for possession of doping products, according to his lawyers.
Last June, an appeals court in Ghent had ordered the fine, saying that Vandenbroucke “was to be judged as a drug addict, not as a doped sportsman.” It was a first for a high-level athlete facing doping charges in Belgium.
On Wednesday, the higher court overturned the judgment, finding the lower court’s reasoning “insufficient,” said Me Luc Deleu, one of Vandebroucke’s lawyers, in a TV interview.
Vandebroucke will face yet another court appearance in the matter, this time before an appeals court in Brussels.
The inquiry began on February 27, 2002, when Belgian police found French soigneur Bernard Sainz in possession of products considered to be suspect. A subsequent search of Vandebroucke’s residence found EPO, growth hormones, adrenalin, testosterone, morphine and amphetamines.
The Belgian was suspended by the Flemish cycling association from September 1, 2002, to February 28, 2003. Now 30, he rides for Unibet.com and is racing the Ruta del Sol in Spain.
Zanotti takes Tour de l’Algarve opener
Italian Marco Zanotti (Unibet.com) sprinted to victory in the first stage of the Tour de l’Algarve Wednesday.
Zanotti took the stage, run over 162.3km between Albufeira and Tavira in Portugal, ahead of Britain’s Jeremy Hunt and Switzerland’s Markus Zberg.
Stage 2 on Thursday is a 173.5km leg from Vila do Bispo to Lagos.
1. Marco Zanotti (I), Unibet.com, 162.3km in 3:43:30 (43.570 km/h)
2. Jeremy Hunt (GB), same time
3. Markus Zberg (Swi), s.t.
4. Pedro Soeiro (Por), s.t.
5. Gert Steegmans (B), s.t.
Overall (after one stage)
1. Marco Zanotti (I), Unibet.com, 3:43:20
2. Jeremy Hunt (GB), at 0:04
3. Markus Zberg (Swi), at 0:06
4. Christophe Mengin (F), at 0:07
5. Hugo Sabido (Por), at 0:07
Lineup slated for L-B-L
Twenty-five teams will take the start for the 92nd edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, slated for Sunday, April 23, organizers announced Wednesday.
In addition to the 20 ProTour teams, five continental teams were invited: three Belgian (Chocolate Jacques, Landbouwkrediet, Unibet.com); one French (Agritubel); and one British (Barloworld).
The organizers also announced that this year’s course will be slightly modified, increasing the total distance of the race to 262km, up from 260km in 2005.
Teams for the 2006 Liège-Bastogne-Liège:
Germany: T-Mobile, Gerolsteiner
Belgium: Davitamon, Quick Step
Spain: Caisse d’Epargne-Illes Baléares, Euskaltel, Liberty, Saunier Duval
France: AG2R, Cofidis, Crédit Agricole, Française des Jeux, Bouygues Telecom
Italy: Lampre, Milram, Liquigas
United States: Discovery Channel
Belgium: Chocolade Jacques, Landbouwkrediet, Unibet.com
Great Britain: Barloworld