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November 27, 2019
Photography by Cor Vos
Sofie De Vuyst (Parkhotel-Valkenburg) has tested positive for an exogenous steroid in an out of competition control.
The 32-year-old Belgian, who signed with Mitchelton-Scott this transfer season and earlier this month was named Flandrienne of the Year, announced in a Facebook post that she had been notified of the positive test, Sporza reports.
“To my astonishment, I received the message that there were exogenous steroids in my urine sample,” she wrote.
“For me, ethical and responsible ‘clean’ sports have always been paramount. I am therefore completely in the dark as to how this could have happened. I am completely devastated, the worst possible nightmare has happened to me.”
De Vuyst’s positive test came on September 18, in the week after the Lotto Belgium Tour, where she finished seventh overall and won the mountains classification, and before Yorkshire Worlds. She denied cheating in her Facebook post, according to Sporza.
“I maintain my innocence, even though I realize that I will encounter a lot of disbelief,” she wrote. “I will try to do everything to prove my innocence and clear my name.”
De Vuyst put together a collection of strong performance in 2019, highlighted by her biggest career victory at Brabantse Pijl. She received Het Nieuwsblad’s Flandrienne of the Year award at the start of November.
Although her tenure at Parkhotel-Valkenburg is effectively over, the team has nonetheless suspended her pending analysis of her B sample.
“The management of the Parkhotel Valkenburg ladies cycling team is very sorry to receive this news from one of its riders,” the squad said in a statement. “As a team, we also distance ourselves completely from this possible offense.”