Frank Schleck has been handed a back-dated, one-year suspension from competition by the Luxembourg Anti-Doping Agency (ALAD) after failing a test for a banned substance during the 2012 Tour de France.
The RadioShack rider tested positive for banned diuretic xipamide from a urine sample taken on July 14 during the Tour. Schleck requested that his B sample be tested, and this also returned a positive for xipamide.
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News of the positive test broke on July 17, and RadioShack removed him from the race. His ban will commence on the day that the test was taken – July 14 2012, meaning that he will miss this year’s Tour de France and every race before it.
Schleck maintains his innocence, saying that the substance must have been unwittingly consumed via a ‘contaminated product’. The Luxembourger has the right to appeal against the sanction via the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Xipamide is part of a family of drugs known as diuretics, which causes the body to urinate more frequently. This has the effect of causing the body to lose water. Diuretics can be used to mask the use of other banned substances, although they offer little in the way of sporting performance enhancement themselves. It was this latter point that ALAD took into account when giving Schleck a one-year, rather than two-year ban.
Schleck was third overall in the 2011 Tour de France, one place behind brother Andy. He has previously won the Tour de Suisse, Criterium International and Tour of Luxembourg.
Schleck was suspended by the CSC team in 2008 after it was discovered that he had made a payment to Dr Eufemiamo Fuentes, the Spanish doctor at the centre of the Operacion Puerto doping investigation. He was later cleared of any wrong-doing by ALAD.
Fuentes is currently giving evidence in the Operacion Puerto trial in Spain.