October 1/05 11:24 am - Meirhaeghe on the Comeback Trail
Posted by Editoress on 10/1/05
Meirhaeghe Likely to Return
The Belgian website Sporza has published an interview with former mountain bike world champion Filip Meirhaeghe after he held a press conference to promote his new book "Positief.". Meirhaeghe was the reigning world champion and a strong Olympic contender when he tested positive for EPO after the Mont Ste Anne World Cup last year. Meirhaeghe immediately announced his retirement. The full story (in Flemish) can be seen here
"I never want to have such a year like that again" -- referring to 2004 bust
It's not official yet, but Filip Meirhaeghe is thinking about a comeback. The mountain biker is beginning to train again, but hasn't made it official.
"On paper I already have two sponsors who will support me if I go back into competition. But that is not yet definite," confided Meirhaeghe to the press at the press conference for his book, "Positief.""
"It could be that I don't get back the required fitness-level." The 34-year-old Meirhaeghe would like to race for another two years. "Many mountainbikers stop racing at my age. If I can get top-10 in a World Cup, then I'll be content."
Meirhaeghe has to wait until January 14, 2006, until his punishment for EPO use is over. "I am still the same. The book was sort of like therapy for me. It was better than going to see the psychologist."
"Last year was really hard. But through doing this book, I can see a future again. In the future, I hope to to race again. I let my body go for the last 10 months, so now I have to put in some time," admitted Meirhaeghe.
On Sporza radio, Filip Meirhaeghe talked about how he is on a training program to make a comeback in the mountain bike world.
"Mentally I am back, put physically I have some work to do," said Meirhaeghe. "Either way, I am on track. I feel good and the comeback is real challenge. Right now I am really motivated, I only have to expect/hope that it stays that way."
A few weeks ago, the ex-world champ went to training camp in the US. "I had a lot of fun in America"
"In the States, I didn't follow a strict training program, but I did have a great time," explained Meirhaeghe. He did express disappointment that he will never win another Olympic medal.
Talking about racing with and without EPO, Meirhaeghe would rather not. "The difference is not physical, you have to trust in yourself a lot more. Now I will have to dig deep, just as I did before."
Can Meirhaehge really resist the temptation? "I am not going to make the same mistake again. I never want to have a year like that again."