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Stuttgart court clears cyclist Schumacher of deceiving Gerolsteiner

A court in Stuttgart has cleared Stefan Schumacher of deceiving his ex-employers. The cyclist served a nearly two-year ban after testing positive for a banned blood-booster during the 2008 Tour de France.

On Tuesday, a German court cleared professional road racing cyclist Stefan Schumacher of fraud charges in connection with positive doping tests. The public prosecutor had accused Schumacher of deceiving his then employer, the mineral water company Gerolsteiner, by doping and hit him with a 16,800-euro ($23,000) fine.

Gerolsteiner owner Hans-Michael Holczer has always insisted he knew nothing about doping, but Schumacher gave an interview to Der Spiegel magazine in March claiming that performance enhancers had become as banal as "having a plate of pasta after training."

On Tuesday, the court decided that Holczer must have known of the doping culture on the team and hence Schumacher could not have deceived him.

Schumacher denied doping when he had initially failed the test. However, he admitted in the March interview that he had used "EPO, growth hormone and corticosteroids" since his mid-20s.

He returned to cycling in August 2010 and now rides on the UCI Continental Circuit for Denmark's Christina Watches-Onfone.

mkg/rc (AFP, dpa, AP)