Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Golder’s News And Sport
This French cyclist has admitted to doping by using hormones bought from China but claims she did so as she was not “the real” her after being forced to send pictures of herself in a thong to her coach.
Cyclist Marion Sicot, 27, tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO) on 27th June 2019 after finishing 10th in the French time trial championships but she initially denied doping, blaming the results on her menstrual cycle and claiming she had done nothing wrong.
The cyclist, who raced for the Belgian team Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport in 2018 and 2019, confessed to doping in a tell-all interview on Sunday with the Stade 2 programme on the France 3 TV channel.
Sicot confessed to Stade 2: “I tried protecting myself by lying…”
She added: “But after you tell the truth, you are much better, you can sleep better and get up in the morning, a little prouder of what you have done.”
During the interview, Sicot admitted to buying 10 vials of the product from China in May 2019 after googling “buy EPO”. She confessed to having taken the drug on 24th June.
EPO can be used to increase athletes’ red blood cell mass, allowing their bodies to transport more oxygen to their muscles and therefore increasing stamina and performance.
But she also said that she did so after having suffered months of abuse and psychological torment at the hands of her team director Marc Bracke.
She told Stade 2 that she accepted that she should be sanctioned but that she would also like the circumstances of her taking the EPO to be taken into account.
She said: “It wasn’t the real Marion who did that.”
Marion gave Stade 2 a long series of text messages between herself and Bracke. One of them shows the request Bracke allegedly sent Sicot asking her to send him a “picture in bikini front and back” and saying it was a “secret.”
Another excerpt from these text messages shows Bracke allegedly telling Marion “from now in smaller slip [French for underpants] out string [French for thong] and every weel the same picture. Work for 58kg til a januari. Train harder biceps and ass. (sic)”
Stade 2 allegedly obtained other texts showing that Bracke told Marion that she was fat and that if she did not send him the pictures, he would not include her on the team.
She also told the programme that she was not paid and was made to pay for her own travel expenses, by plane, train or car – a practice which is reportedly illegal.
It was reportedly Antoine Vayer, 57, a former cycling coach who has campaigned against doping, who managed to get Sicot to open up and reveal the truth.
In light of the gravity of her accusations, the President of the French Cycling Federation (FFC), Michel Callot, issued a statement saying he is calling for an investigation into the team she was on.
Callot said: “The federation has taken note of Marion Sicot’s statements to the media on facts which allegedly occurred during her time on the Doltcini-Van Eyck Sport team.”
The statement also said: “Far from excusing any doping practices, the FFC reiterates its intransigence towards any situation of violence or harassment and its determination to act with the utmost rigour to protect its athletes.”
Sicot’s accusations come after 24-year-old American female cyclist Sara Youmans told Le Monde that Marc Bracke had asked her for similar images under the same pretence.
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