Iljo Keisse joins Boonen at Belgian Powerhouse
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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Iljo Keisse joins Boonen at Belgian Powerhouse

by Nick Mulder at 9:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

The rumor that embattled track cyclist Iljo Keisse would ride for Belgium’s Quick Step in 2010 became reality on Saturday after the two parties struck a one-year deal with an option for a second year.

Keisse spent the past months riding in the elite category without contract for the Saey-Deschacht cycling team. This was the direct result of an immediate termination of his contract with Belgian Pro-continental team Topsport-Vlaanderen following a positive test in the Gent Six Day. Just last month Keisse was cleared of any intentional doping charges and was able to begin searching for a new professional team.

“Keisse is 27 and entering the most important phase of his career,” said Quick Step team manger Patrick Lefevere to Het Nieuwsblad. “We want Iljo to get results on the road as well. With his speed he could be essential in helping Tom Boonen and can go for victory in the smaller races,” he added.

Keisse is especially happy with the contract following the nightmare that haunted him this past year, “This is the realization of a dream,” he said.

“Team Quick Step is one of the best teams in the world and I already know most riders. I train with several of them, like Wouter Weylandt. The upcoming months I will focus on the Six Days and the Track World Championships in Copenhagen [March 24-28]. It has not yet been decided whether or not I will race on the road before then. In the next few days we will plan next season once I return from the Track World Cup in Colombia,” he explained.

Keisse returned a positive control for cathine and hydrochlorothiazide (HCT) after having won the Six-day of Gent last November. HCT was of particular concern as it is a diuretic, which, while it is not performance enhancing, it can be used to mask the use of other substances. He requested that the B-Sample be counter-analysed, but it too was positive, and he was fired by the Topsport-Vlaanderen team.

According to Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad, the committee accepted Keisse’s defence that he did not knowingly dope, and the testimony of three university professors that it was “very unlikely” that he took a particular drug. It was agreed that the presence of Cathine was as a result of the degradation of pseudo-ephedrine, found in the legal cold treatment Sinutab that he’d admitted taking. The presence of HCT was likely due to a contaminated dietary supplement.


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