'We are not cheaters' says Belgian rider Shari Bossuyt after anti-doping positive

The Canyon-SRAM rider tested positive for Letrozole in an anti-doping control in March

Shari Bossuyt
(Image credit: Getty)

Belgian cyclist Shari Bossuyt has pleaded her innocence after testing positive for a banned substance, and being made “non-active” by her Canyon-SRAM team. 

The 22-year-old returned a positive test for Letrozole in an anti-doping control during the Tour de Normandie Féminin in March. The substance, a hormone drug used more generally to treat breast cancer, is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Prohibited List. 

In a press conference on Monday, Bossuyt said she has "never consciously used" the drug, and that she believes her sample was contaminated. 

"At the moment the procedure is still ongoing and I have to explain to the AFLD [the French Anti-Doping Agency] how the product ended up in my body," the Belgian is quoted in Het Laatste Nieuws. "This is turning out to be extremely difficult today because I have never come into contact with Letrozole and have never consciously used it.

"In fact, this was the first time I had heard of Letrozole. Fortunately, I am currently well supported. I hope we can clarify soon. But above all, that we can prove that we are not cheaters." 

In a statement released on Sunday, Bossuyt's Canyon-SRAM team outlined that it holds a "zero-tolerance stance towards any use of prohibited substances" and that it had made the rider "provisionally non-active", effectively suspending her. 

Bossuyt, too, confirmed that she will not take part in any events. "In consultation with the team, I have decided not to race in the coming weeks. Mainly because my head isn't in it," she said. 

"Everything indicates that we are dealing with a contamination. That is why I would like to appeal to all authorities that we may be dealing with an underlying problem. I will continue to train so that I can compete again soon.”

The news comes over a year after another Belgian cyclist, Toon Aerts, also tested positive for Letrozole. The cyclo-cross rider, who returned an out-of-competition sample containing the banned substance in January 2022, is yet to return to racing, and has said he is facing a two-year suspension

Aerts issued a statement on Sunday following the announcement of Bossuyt’s Letrozole positive. He said: “We are one year on, I’m still deep in misery, and unfortunately there is another case. I can imagine so well what Shari is going through now. This shouldn't happen. Another athlete, who is also human, who will go through a deep valley with her whole family. Without having done anything wrong, just like me and my family!

He added: “No two without three, as the saying goes, and I fear there will be more victims…” 

Bossuyt and her Canyon-SRAM team are currently awaiting the decision from the AFLD, which will come in due course. A suspension would rule the Belgian out of defending her Madison world title, which she holds with Lotte Kopecky, at the UCI Track World Championships this August.  

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Tom Davidson
News and Features Writer

Tom joined Cycling Weekly as a news and features writer in the summer of 2022, having previously contributed as a freelancer. He is the host of The TT Podcast, which covers both the men's and women's pelotons and has featured a number of prominent British riders. 

An enthusiastic cyclist himself, Tom likes it most when the road goes uphill and actively seeks out double-figure gradients on his rides. 

He's also fluent in French and Spanish and holds a master's degree in International Journalism.