The cyclocross world was shocked by an announcement from the UCI on Monday stating that Denise Betsema, elite Dutch rider, would be allowed to return to racing with immediate effect after having served a six-month suspension for doping.
Betsema had an adverse analytical finding for anabolic steroids from a sample collected at the Hoogerheide World Cup race January 27, 2019, where she placed seventh, and at the Superprestige round on February 16. Betsema won the Koksijde round of the World Cup that season.
According to the UCI statement Betsema served a six-month suspension from April 5 to October 4, 2019, cyclocross’s racing off season. Her Pauwels Sauzen-Bingoal team didn’t sack her after the positives and suspension, so Betsema will start Saturday in Kasteelcross Zonnebeke in Belgium.
She didn’t seem to lose UCI points either.
The new UCI Ranking came out today. 🇳🇱 Denise Betsema is currently 24th on the ranking, so apparently no results were taken away and no points loss.
Betsema has 790 points to defend in the remainder of the season, Hoogerheide (90), Worlds (280) and of victories in February. pic.twitter.com/Ztntjuemzo
— Cyclocross24.com (@cyclocross24) January 21, 2020
Frustrated, angry reactions from fellow pros–especially North Americans and Brits–came swiftly. Some weren’t pulling any punches. Caution: expletives ahead.
This is insulting, frustrating, and depressing. The @UCI_CX doesn't care about the integrity of the sport or about all the athletes doing it clean. And seeing this is depressing for the youth trying to get into this sport. Unbelievable. https://t.co/HDy38y5P41
— Maghalie Rochette (@maghroch) January 20, 2020
This is such bull shit, a rider tests positive TWICE for anabolic steroids & she gets a 6month off-season ban? @UCI_cycling lets clean athletes down yet again. Denise Betsema free to race as UCI announces back-dated six-month ban | Cyclingnews https://t.co/HZqBB44Nrn
— Katie Compton (@KatieFnCompton) January 20, 2020
The fact that Denise Betsema tested positive twice at 2 different events and the @UCI_cycling give her a 6month basically off season suspension and then her team @PS_BG_CT rehire her is an utter fucking joke and a slap in the face of every hard working, rule abiding athlete
— Ryan Trebon (@ryantrebon) January 20, 2020
— Rebecca Fahringer (@GoFahr) January 20, 2020
Betsema’s team has claimed that she will hold a press conference Tuesday to address the matter.
When is this press conference then? Surely I can’t be the only one who doesn’t understand the decisions in this case? Where are my facts?
— Helen Wyman (@CXHelen) January 21, 2020
Dutch cyclocross has moved on without Betsema. The 2019-2020 season has been dominated by Dutch riders. Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado leads the World Cup, Superprestige and DVV Trofee series, with Annemarie Worst and Yara Kastelijn her closest competitors. Twenty-year-old Inge van der Heijden has also had a breakout year.