Astana have confirmed that Lars Boom will start the Tour de France on Saturday afternoon, despite the Dutchman returning a low level of cortisol in a test on Friday.
Under the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) rules, of which Astana are a voluntary member, riders who show too low a level of cortisol should not be allowed to start the race.
The Tour kicks off on Saturday afternoon with a 13.8km time trial within Utrecht city centre, with Boom scheduled to ride at 16.55 local time.
While it was rumoured late on Friday that team manager Alexander Vinokourov was considering leaving the MPCC over the matter, the team released a statement later that night to confirm they had requested the authorisation from the UCI to replace Boom with Italian rider Vanotti.
Subsequently on Saturday morning, Vinokourov confirmed to journalists in his hotel that Boom would take to the start, and the team followed that up with a statement shortly to explain the situation. They cite anti-asthma medication used by the rider as the reason for returning a low cortisol result.
"Astana Pro Team will start the 2015 Tour de France with nine riders, including Dutch cyclist Lars Boom," it said.
"After the 3 July receipt of blood tests administered by the UCI on 2 July that showed a low level of cortisol, Astana Pro Team medical staff examined Boom in order to assess the athlete's health and viability for the 2015 Tour de France start in Utrecht.
"As such, a low cortisol level is grounds to stop a rider for a minimum eight days of competition in order to prevent any health risk to the rider according to rules established by the MPCC, of which Astana Pro Team is a member.
"Astana Pro Team asked the UCI to allow a replacement rider in place of Boom, and received confirmation from the UCI that as a low cortisol result is no risk to the health of the rider, therefore there are no valid grounds for a late substitution.
"Team medical staff have advised that Boom's low cortisol result is the consequence of a long-standing and well-known application of anti-asthma therapy by the athlete and is not a violation of UCI rules and regulations."
Dutch team LottoNL-Jumbo, former members of the MPCC, were forced to drop George Bennett from their Giro d'Italia squad earlier this year in a similar situation. They subsequently left the anti-doping organisation, as did Lampre-Merida earlier this year, meaning Astana would be the third team to leave the group if the MPCC expel them over the Boom situation.
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