Belgian racer Sofie De Vuyst has been suspended by her team after testing positive for steroids.
The 32-year-old, who raced for Parkhotel Valkenburg in 2019, has confirmed the positive test for exogenous steroids in a statement but denies any wrongdoing.
De Vuyst was given the prestigious Flandrienne award for Belgian cyclists in 2019 having won Brabantse Pijl early in the season, and she is due to transfer to Mitchelton-Scott for 2020.
In a Facebook post reported by Belgian media, De Vuyst said: “This is a message I never wanted to write.
“To my great astonishment, I received the message yesterday that I have returned a positive doping test during an out of competition check on September 18.
“I now scream my innocence, although I realise that I will encounter a lot of disbelief. I am going to do everything in my power to prove my innocence and to clear my name.”
Her Dutch UCI team Parkhotel Valkenburg have released a statement confirming that De Vuyst would be suspended pending the results of her B sample analysis.
The team said: “The management of the women’s cycling team regrets to receive this news from one of their riders. As a team, we completely distance ourselves from this possible offence.
“Pending the outcome of the B sample and the further course of the procedure, the management decided to make De Vuyst, with whom the contract expires at the end of 2018, inactive with immediate effect. That is in accordance with the norms and values and the zero-tolerance policy of our team. Nevertheless, we hope that De Vuyst, who maintains her innocence, will soon be able to clear her name.
“We regret this case and continue to work for a healthy, safe and professional environment, where cheating will never find a place.”
De Vuyst added: “Cycling is a wonderful sport, unfortunately this message does not do the image of the sport any good and that also makes me very sad. The fact that my current team Parkhotel Valkenburg is also getting negative attention in this way is a personal concern. These things are also an extra motivation to clear this all up, because the sport and the team do not deserve this either. A difficult period is now coming, but I will try to figure out how this could have happened. “