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Monday, 18 September, 2000, 21:23 GMT 22:23 UK
Cycling doctor on drugs trial
1998 Tour de France
The 1998 Tour de France was marred by drug claims
Former Festina cycling team doctor Eric Ryckaert has gone on trial in Belgium for allegedly supplying erythropoietine (EPO).

When the so called "Festina affair" exploded, the teams riders and support staff were suspected of doping offences.

Ryckaert, 57, who continues to protest his innocence, faces six months in jail if he is found guilty by the court in Ghent.

Together with 50-year-old pharmacist Kristian Vanderstichele and Linda Baetsle, 48, an ex-employee of a medical insurance firm, he is accused of buying and selling EPO.

Banned substance

Use of the banned substance, which raises oxygen levels in blood, is a strict violation of Belgian anti-doping laws.

The court heard that between January 1995 and October 1997, Vanderstichele ordered various quantities of EPO from a Dutch pharmacist for doctor Ryckaert's account.

Rykaert was the team doctor for the Franco-Spanish cycling team Festina at the time.

Vanderstichele admitted the charge in 1998 but Ryckaert, who was too sick to attend court, continues to deny any wrongdoing.

The public prosecutor has demanded a six months jail sentence for the three, who will have to wait until 2 October for the verdict.

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See also:

16 Sep 00 |  Cycling
Sciandri wins amid Pantani row
10 Aug 00 |  Drugs in Sport
A testing time for athletics
10 Aug 00 |  Drugs in Sport
Drugs in world athletics
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