A Belgian newspaper has reported that Tom Boonen has tested positive for cocaine in an out-of-competition dope test taken three days before the Tour of Belgium.
However, cocaine, although illegal in most countries including Belgium, is not banned out of competition by either the UCI or the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The test on Boonen, who rides for Quick Step, was administered by the Flemish Government in Belgium on May 25 and the result has been leaked to a Belgian newspaper. Now the Flemish Government looks set to open an investigation.
The UCI has not been informed officially of the test result and a source today said that if the reported test was administered out of competition then it would not a matter for any sporting anti-doping authorities.
The WADA code does not punish a positive out-of-competition test for cocaine and so Boonen would be free to continue racing.
But the big question is how this news will go down with ASO, the organiser of the Tour de France.
A test is considered ?in competition? from two days before an event for the duration of the event. Any athlete testing positive for cocaine at an event would be sanctioned but experts say that there is no performance-enhancing benefit from taking cocaine more than a couple of days before an event.
It?s been a bad period of time for the 27-year-old Belgian, who won Paris-Roubaix in April. Last week he had to surrender his driving licence for the second time in six weeks after he was pulled over driving at 180kph in a 90kph zone. He was also slightly over the alcohol limit. Six weeks ago he lost his licence for a fortnight for breaking the speed limit.
The Quick Step team is currently refusing to comment on the newspaper reports. A UCI spokesman said the body was waiting for more information before commenting but that the test was not carried out by the UCI.
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Sports journalist Lionel Birnie has written professionally for Sunday Times, Procycling and of course Cycling Weekly. He is also an author, publisher, and co-founder of The Cycling Podcast. His first experience covering the Tour de France came in 1999, and he has presented The Cycling Podcast with Richard Moore and Daniel Friebe since 2013. He founded Peloton Publishing in 2010 and has ghostwritten and published the autobiography of Sean Kelly, as well as a number of other sports icons.
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