Bart Wellens under investigation in possible doping case
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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bart Wellens under investigation in possible doping case

by Shane Stokes at 5:26 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping, Cyclocross
 
Home searched, investigators trying to determine if illegal products were used

Bart WellensOver two weeks after he was rushed to hospital in very serious condition prior to the Belgian championships, the home of Bart Wellens has been searched by investigators seeking to determine if he may have used doping products.

The search was authorised by a court in Turnhout and took place yesterday. In addition to Wellens’ home, that of his brother Geert, Belgian rider Kevin Cant and Luc Van den Broeck were searched. The latter is not a rider, but rather the producer of the dietary supplement CONCAP. The headquarters of that product were also searched.

Detectives took almost two hours to sift through Wellens’ house. He was initially not there, according to Het Niuewsblad, but arrived back approximately an hour after they arrived, letting them in. A computer was taken and will be examined, but it is not clear if anything else was found. Wellens’ medical records were seized and will be examined to determine if doping could be a reason for his hospitalisation.

According to a Turnhout prosecutor, it is too soon to determine if any laws were broken. “Everything needs to be checked. We want to know if something is wrong,” said Inge Delissen. “For the rider, it is important that we find out the truth. The investigation may take months.”

No arrests were made yesterday.

Wellens has struggled with poor form in recent months, but improved noticeably in December when he won the Essen round of the Gazet van Antwerpen (GvA) Trofee series and was third in the GP Sven Nys on New Year’s Day.

According to Het Nieuwsblad, the Turnhout prosecutor had received a tip off in December about possible doping. Wellens was hospitalised on January 7th with heart and kidney problems, later attributed to an infection.

On January 13th the prosecutor launched an investigation, seeking to determine if 46 year old Van den Broek could be a supplier of doping products.

Both he and Wellens were investigated after searches in 2006, but later cleared in 2009.

On January 17th Wellens called a press conference and denied taking any banned products. He complained that slurs had been cast on his character and insisted that he was a clean rider.

“My wife and my baby had to undergo a lot, while I scarcely knew anything,” he said, referring to his time in hospital. “This has affected me deeply. I know what I'm all for doing and how I practice my sport,” he said. “And the first question when you leave the hospital once you get out is about that [doping]…then it causes a lot of pain.

"I understand that some people think bad things because of the image of the sport, and the moment at which it happened,” he conceded. “But only Bart Wellens knows how hard I work.”

The world championships will take place this coming weekend in Koksijde in Belgium. Wellens was not due to take part as he is still recovering from his health problems

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