Luca Paolini handed 18-month ban after Tour de France cocaine positive

Luca Paolini is banned for 18 months by the UCI's Anti-Doping Tribunal for a 'non-intentional anti-doping rule violation'

Nine months after he tested positive for cocaine at the Tour de France, Luca Paolini has been handed an 18-month ban by the UCI’s Anti-Doping Tribunal.

The Italian rider, who was riding for Katusha at the time of his positive test, was withdrawn after stage seven of the Tour having tested positive for the recreational drug.

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Paolini, now 39, was found guilty by the Tribunal of “a non-intentional anti-doping rule violation” and was declared ineligible for 18-months. It was not stated as to whether this ban would be backdated to the time of the positive test.

Having been provisionally suspended by the UCI and Katusha, Paolini admitted to having a sleeping medication addiction, which later resulted in him taking cocaine alone at a pre-Tour training camp.

Katusha reportedly knew about his addiction to the sleeping medication. In order to fight off the drowsiness caused by the pills, Paolini would reportedly drink more and more coffee before a race in order to wake up.

Should the ban be back-dated to July, Paolini would be eligible to return in early 2017 – by which time he will be 40 years old.