One day before she was due to appear before the UCI’s disciplinary commission in relation to the discovery of a hidden motor in a spare bike at the cyclocross world championships, Femke Van den Driessche has announced that she is abandoning her defence.
In a statement released Monday, the 19 year old Belgian said that she was walking away from the sport.
“After consultation with lawyers and my family I decided to stop my defence in the process in Aigle,” she said, according to Het Nieuwsblad. “I have decided to stop cyclocross.”
Under UCI rules, Van den Driessche was facing a large minimum fine and a lengthy suspension. Earlier this month Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad reported that the her lawyer laid out what the UCI was pushing for; he said that the UCI Disciplinary Commission wanted a lifetime ban plus a fine of 50,000 Euros (AU$74,000).
Van den Driessche didn’t refer to that penalty, but instead said that she wasn’t in a position to mount a defence. “The cost of that session in Switzerland will be too high for me. The acquittal is impossible, that bike was in my pit zone.”
The European youth champion was plunged into controversy when a bike check at the under 23 race at the cyclocross worlds in Belgium on January 30 uncovered the bike in question.
She said at the time that the bike used to be hers but that she sold it to a family friend. She added that he had put a motor in unbeknownst to her, and that his bike was taken by accident by her helpers to the race in question.
She didn’t address the issue of guilt or innocence in her statement on Monday, but asked to be allowed get on with her life.
“I would like to thank all the people who have supported and still support me, my lawyers, friends and supporters. I want to continue my life in peace and serenity and hope everyone will understand this and respect it.”