By Jonny Long
Marion Sicot, a French professional rider, has blamed her EPO positive on the fact women can have higher levels of EPO during their menstrual cycle.
Sicot reportedly tested positive for EPO in a test at the French time trial championships in June, coming tenth in the race against the clock before finishing ninth in the road race. She then pulled out of La Course, the women's race run during the Tour de France, after being told of her A sample testing positive.
The 27-year-old's positive has raised eyebrows as she was previously coached by Franck Alaphilippe, who also coaches his cousin Julian and was hired following Deceuninck - Quick-Step extending the Milan-San Remo winner's contract at the start of June.
Sicot claimed her innocence to Directvelo, saying: "I am now waiting for the analysis of sample B. I haven't done anything wrong. The level found is very low. I had my period when I was tested and the tester made a note. When we have our period, women produce more EPO.
"I have never taken anything and I hope that the truth will quickly emerge. It's difficult for me because I didn't do anything and I want to prove it. I've even borrowed money from my parents because I want to fight to prove my innocence."
Grounds to investigate Franck Alaphilippe also seem thin. The Frenchwoman has said that he is not involved, as he had joined Deceuninck - Quick-Step before the French National Championships and was therefore not working with her, adding that he had only remotely coached her, emailing power data and exchanging training plans.
Groupama-FDJ rider Georg Preidler was this week charged with professional fraud over his involvement in the Operation Aderlass doping ring.
The Austrian quit his Groupama-FDJ team in March after he was implicated in the long-running doping scheme. Preidler is contesting the case.
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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