"There are known cases where minute amounts of a diuretic have been found in paracetamol" - Michel Hessmann's positive doping test down to contaminated medicine?

Not since the 2023 Glasgow World Championships has Michel Hessman been seen in the professional peloton. As he awaits a verdict in his protracted doping case however, Dutch doping expert Douwe de Boer believes he may have an answer.

De Boer has plenty of experience in similar cases having previously helped Alberto Contador in his clenbuterol case and Polish footballer Bartosz Salamon, who also tested positive for a very small amount of chlorthalidone in April 2023. “The similarities between the cases of Salamon and Hessmann are easy to find,” de Boer tells Wielerflits.

The problem for Hessman is that the burden is on him to prove where the positive test came from if not from doping. “And be able to prove that you have actually used this medicine. They give six examples that you can comply with. This is a fairly difficult assignment,” says de Boer. “In the production process at a pharmaceutical company, several medicines manufactured. It is possible that minute residues of a previously produced medicine are found in another medicine. For example, there are known cases where minute amounts of a diuretic have been found in paracetamol and other painkillers.”

The perception of allowing Hessman to walk away scot-free after a positive doping test is also something that could work against the 22-year-old of Team Visma | Lease a Bike. "This is quite a politically sensitive subject, because we are setting a precedent when minute amounts of a certain substance are found in someone," as de Boer explains.

"You really have to take a decent dose (to have any benefit ed.). Given the minimal amount of chlorthalidone found in Hessmann, this is not plausible," de Boer concludes. "From what I understand, a German expert also demonstrated this to the Freiburg public prosecutor's office and the criminal investigation into Hessmann's doping case was dismissed, partly on the basis of this information.”

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