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Belgium's Tom Boonen banned from Tour de France

Latest update : 2009-05-13

Following his positive test for cocaine, three-times winner of the Paris-Roubaix race and 2005 road world champion Tom Boonen has been banned from this year's Tour de France. The Belgian cyclist risks a suspension of up to six months.

REUTERS - Former world champion Tom Boonen faces a suspension of up to six months and is certain to miss the Tour de France after failing an out-of-competition test for cocaine, cycling officials said on Tuesday.

It is the Belgian's second offence in 12 months after he also tested positive for the same substance in an out-of-competition control last year.

When the Quick Step rider's latest positive test was announced on Saturday the International Cycling Union (UCI) said Boonen would not be punished by the governing body "since the use of cocaine out of competition is not subject to sanctions".

However, the UCI said on Tuesday: "The behaviour of Tom Boonen, even though it does not constitute a violation of the anti-doping rules, can be considered unacceptable and liable to harm the image, reputation or interests of cycling or the UCI.

"This infringement is punishable by a suspension of one to six months," cycling's governing body added in a statement.

Tour de France organisers reacted to the UCI announcement by saying Boonen would take no part in the July 4-26 race.

"Obviously he cannot be on the Tour de France starting line. We are not talking about a rider any more but about a man who needs to be treated," Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme told Reuters.

Boonen, who won the road world championships in 2005, had been targeting the green jersey for the Tour's best sprinter.

Quick Step had already suspended the rider for "an unspecified period of time" and said he would have to follow psychological or psychiatric treatment.

Date created : 2009-05-13

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