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Brandt is cleared of doping charge


BRUSSELS, Belgium -- Christophe Brandt has been cleared of doping by the Belgian cycling association.

Brandt tested positive for methadone during last month's Tour de France and was sacked by his team Lotto-Domo.

But an independent panel has exonerated Brandt saying he did not knowingly take the drug, which is used as a substitute for heroin and is not generally not considered to enhance performance.

Laurent De Backer, president of the association, said he was surprised at the decision. "Brandt has been cleared by our own independent court active in these sort of cases," he said.

"I am very surprised by their decision. I do not really understand it but I do not want to comment more on that.

"The only thing I can add is that I would not be surprised if the UCI (International Cycling Union) appeals the decision."

Brandt said the banned drug came from nutritional supplements which had been tainted because the pharmacist had been working with methadone prior to preparing the cyclist's products.

"I am of course relieved," said the 27-year-old. "I have been waiting for this sentence for six weeks now. What is important for me is that I can talk to teams in order to get a new contract to do my job."

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