Just under ten weeks after he was named in media reports as being suspected of doping, Greg Van Avermaet was cleared by the Belgian Cycling Federation of the charges.
“The disciplinary commission of the RLVB (Belgian Cycling Federation – ed.], qualified in the matter of doping, declares that the rider Greg Van Avermaet is not guilty of the offences he was charged with and therefore finds that there is no reason to impose any disciplinary sanction,” it said in a statement.
The Belgian was told in February that he had to answer allegations that he was involved in banned practices with the controversial doctor Chris Mertens.
The latter was implicated in a three year investigation and is suspected of doping many Flemish elite athletes and riders.
Van Avermaet said that he had been treated by Maertens, but hadn’t broken any rules.
Officially cleared, he spoke of his relief and his desire to put the matter behind him.
“I am happy this nightmare is over,” he said on Thursday. “This has been a hard period for me. Finally, I can focus only on cycling. I want to thank my friends, family and the BMC Racing Team, who supported me.”
His team had refused to sideline him during the investigation, a decision which was vindicated by the RLVB announcement.
Its president/general manager Jim Ochowicz said that the team knew it had made the right choice.
“We never doubted Greg’s innocence,” he insisted. “We are pleased with the decision.”
Van Avermaet finished third in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. He also won stage three of Tirreno-Adriatico and was runner-up in Strade Bianche behind Zdenek Stybar.