‘I don’t have the strength or money for this’ - Shari Bossuyt surrenders Olympic dream after anti-doping positive

Bossuyt likely to be banned for two years for previous letrozole positive, but maintains her innocence

Shari Bossuyt
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Belgian rider Shari Bossuyt has said she will not appeal the likely two-year suspension she is facing after she returned a positive anti-doping test result for letrozole last year.

In a statement shared on X, Bossuyt explained she has the opportunity to appeal, but will not be doing so. “I simply don’t have the strength or the money for this,” she wrote. 

The track rider had hoped to compete alongside Lotte Kopecky in the Madison at the Paris Olympics this summer. The duo were world champions together in 2022. 

Kopecky previously told Cyclingnews that her own participation in the event in Paris would depend on the outcome of Bossuyt’s case. 

Despite Bossuyt’s announcement, a statement from the French anti-doping agency AFLD, shared with Cycling Weekly, said that an official decision on Bossuyt’s case would be announced in due course. 

It said: "The AFLD will publish its decision regarding Ms Bossuyt on its website once the disciplinary process is officially closed."

Bossuyt was racing at the Tour de Normandie for Canyon-Sram when she returned her initial positive result. The 23-year-old won the third stage of the race and finished sixth overall but she then tested positive for letrozole. 

It is the same drug that resulted in fellow Belgian racer Toon Aerts being handed a two-year ban in August last year. Coincidentally both Bossuyt and Aerts share the same management.

In her latest post on social media, Bossuyt continued to plead her innocence and said the affair was taking a toll on her. 

She said: "No one seems to realise what an impact this has on someone's mental health. My Olympic dream is destroyed and having to walk around every day with the 'stamp' of a doper. 

“It's almost unbearable. Fortunately, I find support from people who really listen to me, believe in me, and I also just keep doing sports because it does me good. I will prove that I will come back stronger!”

"I am a 23-year-old girl who happened to be able to make her hobby her profession. I am not a doper and have never considered this for any day. I will also keep repeating this until it all comes out one day."

Letrozole is used by people who take anabolic steroids. It is strictly prohibited in and out of competition and banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). 

Similarly to Aerts, Bossuyt and her team have tried to argue that her positive test was the result of a contaminated food product but they have been unable to prove it. 

She said that the AFLD accepted that contaminated milk could produce a doping positive result but would not back down on the proposed suspension. Bossuyt also wrote that she had been given no support from the CPA rider’s union, the UCI or the Belgian federation. 

“They [AFLD] confirm and acknowledge the fact that the contamination was not intentional,” she explained. “But we cannot, as in the case of Toon Aerts, prove the source of the contamination exactly, as a result of which the legal framework does not allow them to give us further sentence reduction.

"Unfortunately, such studies cost tons of money and take a very long time. After consulting the food agencies, it turns out they don't even test for letrozole... No food safety risk or no knowledge that letrozole is used in Europe because it is banned here."

Bossuyt added: "As an athlete, you are just completely on your own. I now have the chance to still appeal but I simply don't have the strength or money for this. 

“The feeling of having to fight a losing battle, the nights of sleeplessness due to continuous worrying and hurting me financially by having to spend another tens of thousands of euros on an already lost case made me decide to leave it at that."

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