Cyclocross rider Denise Betsema returns to racing after serving doping ban during off-season

Betsema tested positive twice but her ban has already expired

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cyclocross rider Denise Betsema is now free to race again after she served a six-month doping ban during the off-season.

In April 2019, Dutch rider Betsema was provisionally suspended by the UCI after she tested positive for a steroid at two races in January and February last year.

Then on Monday (January 20), cycling’s international governing body announced that Betsema would serve a six-month ban, back-dated to the day of her initial suspension which means she is now allowed to race immediately.

She should have been eligible to race from October 4, but she has been unable to compete because the UCI did not announce its decision until this week.

The UCI’s decision to back-date the ban has been met with criticism by US cyclocross rider Katie Compton, who called the decision “bulls**t.”

Betsema tested positive for an anabolic androgenic steroid during the UCI World Cup round in Hoogerheide, the Netherlands, on January 27, 2019 and then again during the Middelkeker Superprestige event in Belgium on February 16, 2019, which she won.

In an Instagram post after her suspension was announced, Betsema denied taking performance enhancing drugs.

She said: “I have never used prohibited drugs and have never been tested positive throughout the year. We are really stunned and in shock

“I feel that I have been found guilty before the whole procedure has been completed.”

In another post this week, she said: “Yes I can race again immediately. Extremely happy and relieved with this good news.”

She is expected to join her old team, Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal.

Betsema has 15 CX victories to her name, which all came during the last cyclocross season, including the Koksijde World Cup in 2018.

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A statement from the UCI said: “Denise Betsema was sanctioned with a six-month ineligibility period following an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV), for the presence of an anabolic androgenic steroid in samples collected during the Telenet UCI Cyclo-cross World Cup round in Hoogerheide (the Netherlands), on 27 January 2019, and the Telenet Superprestige Noordzeecross Middelkeker (Belgium), on 16 February 2019.

“The athlete was provisionally suspended on April 5, 2019, and her period of ineligibility ended on October 4, 2019.”

Betsema still has the right to appeal the ban to the Dutch anti-doping organisation and the World Anti-Doping Agency.

The UCI said it will not make any further comment on the case.