Luca Paolini announces his retirement 18 months after testing positive for cocaine

Luca Paolini has announced his retirement from professional cycling 18 months on from being kicked out of the Tour de France after testing positive for cocaine.

Speaking to Gazetta della Sport, Paolini said that he had been training hard in an attempt to return to the sport, but had been unsuccessful in finding a team willing to take him.

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“I found closed doors. At Astana, Vinokourov told me that with the ban that I had, he could not hire me. Coming from him that made me laugh.

“I would’ve liked to race with Bahrain-Merida, but the Arab culture is such that they don’t accept the minimum error when it comes to alcohol and drugs.”

The two-time Grand Tour stage winner has now turned his back on cycling, opening a cafe in the Italian town on Como, just a stone’s throw from the start of Il Lombardia.

Alongside those stage wins in the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, Paolini will be best remembered by fans for his victories in the 2013 Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and the 2015 Ghent Wevelgem.

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However, his career was cut short when he was handed an 18-month ban after testing positive for cocaine in an out-of-competition test in June 2015.

The Italian also struggled with addictions to caffeine and sleeping drugs in the latter years of his career, addictions that he now says have been solved.