Latest update: 17/07/2012
- cycling - sport - Tour de France
Frank Schleck out of Tour de France after failing doping test
Cyclist Frank Schleck pulled out of the Tour de France on Tuesday after testing positive for a banned diuretic. His RadioShack Nissan team said they "could not explain" the reason their rider failed the doping test.
By News Wires (text)
AP - Frank Schleck of Luxembourg pulled out of the Tour de France on Tuesday after failing a doping test, and was cooperating with French authorities at a police station in southwestern Pau, his team said.
Cycling’s governing body said Schleck had tested positive for a banned diuretic, another reminder of the doping cloud that has damaged the image of cycling - and its biggest event.
The 32-year-old RadioShack Nissan Trek leader placed third in the Tour last year, and was in 12th place overall - 9 minutes, 45 seconds behind leader Bradley Wiggins - on Tuesday’s rest day.
His brother Andy was awarded the 2010 Tour victory after Alberto Contador was stripped of the title because of his positive test for clenbuterol, but is sitting out this year’s race with a spinal injury.
Governing body UCI said the diuretic Xipamide turned up in an anti-doping test conducted by the French anti-doping lab in Chatenay-Malabry south of Paris on a sample from Schleck taken July 14.
The RadioShack team said in a statement that it had decided to withdraw Schleck from the race, and said that the diuretic is not present in any medicine used by the team.
The statement said “the reason for the presence of Xipamide in the urine sample of Mr. Schleck is unclear to the team. Therefore, the team is not able to explain the adverse findings at this point.”
Team spokesman Philippe Maertens said Schleck had gone to the Pau police station of his own accord to cooperate with authorities. Maertens said the rider knew police would likely be coming for him.
RadioShack will continue to compete in the race, he said.
Still, it was more bad news for the RadioShack squad, which was built on the remains of former teams of Lance Armstrong, who helped land the top-line sponsorship of the American retail chain for the team.
The team manager, Johan Bruyneel, has been targeted in the same U.S. anti-doping case targeting the seven-time Tour champion. Bruyneel opted to skip the Tour to avoid being a distraction to the race and RadioShack riders.
The case is also likely to cast new doubt on cycling’s ability to root out drugs cheats despite vigorous controls put in place by the UCI and its allies in the anti-doping fight. It is the second doping-related case to emerge at the Tour this year.
Cofidis rider Remy Di Gregorio of France was arrested on the first rest day on July 10 as part of a Marseille doping probe.
The diuretic is classified as a specified substance and does not require a provisional suspension. The World Anti-Doping Agency defines specified substances as those that are “more susceptible to a credible, non-doping explanation.”
Bans for such substances are often shorter, and athletes have a better chance of proving that they did not intend to consume it or enhance their performance.
Contacted by phone by The Associated Press in Mondorf-les-Bains, Luxembourg, Frank’s 36-year-old brother Steve said he had tried to contact the RadioShack rider by phone but was not successful.
“We’re a little bit shaken up,” Steve Schleck said. The UCI said Schleck has the right to request a test of his B sample. It said the “legal timeline” allows four days for Schleck to have the backup sample analyzed.