Stefan Schumacher Paris Nice 2008

Germany's Stefan Schumacher, who won both time trial stages and wore the yellow jersey at this summer's Tour de France, has reportedly tested positive, according to French newspaper L'Equipe

The newspaper is reporting that, like Saunier Duval riders Riccardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli, Schumacher has tested positive for CERA.

Schumacher, who rode for the German Gerolsteiner team, had agreed to join Quick Step for the 2009 season.

Gerolsteiner had already announced it was pulling the plug on the team run by Hans-Michael Holczer, a man who has consistently been outspoken against drug cheats.

Holczer had failed to find a new sponsor, so Schumacher signed for Quick Step. The team's boss Patrick Lefevere said he preferred to hire Schumacher than tempt double world champion Paolo Bettini to postpone his retirement.

Schumacher won the first time trial of the Tour de France ? stage four at Cholet ? by 18 seconds, ahead of Kim Kirchen of Team Columbia and David Millar of Garmin-Chipotle.

That was when the hot favourite, Fabian Cancellara, had an off-day and finished only fifth. However, Schumacher's win was not only a minor surprise but also something of a controversy.

Reporters raised questions about his positive test for amphetamines in 2004. He was later cleared by the German Cycling Federation. His mother, a doctor, had prescribed him a drug to treat allergies and related breathing difficulties and had checked the UCI's list of banned substances and not found the drug, cathine.

There was another incident, which echoed that of Tom Boonen, who tested positive for cocaine and missed the Tour de France, even though the test was conducted out of competition. Last autumn, Schumacher went to a nightclub and took a taxi home after a few drinks. When he got home he found his girlfriend was not home so took his car to search for her. He crashed into a fence and was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

It was not glorious behaviour, but things were to get worse.

In January, Schumacher got wind of the fact it was about to be leaked that the blood test conducted by police had tested positive for amphetamines.

The World Anti-Doping Agency's rules were changed in 2004 and amphetamines, like cocaine, are not banned if detected out of competition. As it was not a sporting anti-doping control, Schumacher was not subject to any sanction.

Schumacher held the yellow jersey for two days in the Tour, despite the uncomfortable questions, only losing it to Kim Kirchen after a freak crash in the final stages of the uphill finish to Super-Besse.

The German won his second stage in the time trial on the penultimate day.

If the Cholet win, over 29 kilometres, had been a minor surprise, this victory over 53 kilometres was a shock.

He beat Cancellara by 21 seconds, with Kirchen in third place a minute back.

It means that of the Tour's 21 stages, five were won by riders who have subsequently tested positive. They were stages four and 20 (Schumacher at Cholet and Saint-Armand), stages six and nine (Ricco at Super-Besse and Bagneres-de-Bigorre) and stage 10 (Piepoli at Hautacam).

More later.


Piepoli positive at Tour de France

Tour Comment: Is Schumacher a good leader for the Tour?

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