The 6th round of the Cyclocross World Cup, set to take place in the park of the Château de Flamanville (Manche) on December 3rd, is embroiled in controversy stemming from Belgium. The issue arose following positive tests for the metabolite of letrozole by Belgian riders Toon Aerts and Shari Bossuyt in previous races in the Normandy region. Their agent, Yannick Prévost, has since advised athletes to avoid local dairy products, particularly cow’s milk, suspecting these products to be the cause of the positive tests.
Stéphane Leclère, president of the organising committee for the World Cup round in Flamanville, expressed his outrage at these allegations. He highlighted that no Norman athlete has ever tested positive or been suspected of doping due to Norman dairy products, which are widely consumed in the region. Leclère noted that the controversy resurfaced in the Belgian press coinciding with the World Cup weekend in Flamanville, suggesting it was created to garner attention.
Both Aerts and Bossuyt tested positive for Letrozole, a cancer drug, after participating in events in Normandy. Aerts’ positive result came after the Flamanville World Cup in January 2022, while Bossuyt’s was during the Tour de Normandie Féminin in March 2023. Their management company, ISEA Sport Management, warned other riders on their roster, including Michael Vanthourenhout and Toon Vandebosch, to avoid local dairy products and bring their own food from Belgium.
The management company speculated that Letrozole metabolite could be present in cow’s milk, suggesting this as the cause for the positive tests. However, laboratory analyses have not confirmed this hypothesis. Letrozole is banned by WADA as it can counteract the effects of anabolic steroids.
A 2019 study indicated that hair analysis could differentiate between long-term doping use and inadvertent ingestion. Aerts allowed his hair to grow for such an analysis but couldn’t clear his name and received a two-year ban, expiring just before the end of this season. He is reportedly close to signing with the Deschacht-Hens-Maes team.
Bossuyt’s case is ongoing. She was set to team up with Lotte Kopecky for Belgium in the Madison at the Olympics, but her participation remains uncertain pending the outcome of her case.