Just two hours before the official Tour de France entry list closes, Tom Boonen (Quick Step) has been told he can ride in this year’s race following a decision by the French Arbitration for Sport (Chambre arbitrale du sport du CNOSF).
The Tour de France organisers did not want Boonen in their race after he tested positive for cocaine for a second time in two years in April. However, the test was done out of competition and so cannot be used to ban an athlete from competition.
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Speaking to the Associated Press news agency, Boonen’s lawyer Jean-Louis Dupont said “The ruling is: we win. Tom Boonen will ride in the Tour.”
Boonen’s Quick Step team vowed to fight all the way this year after leaving Boonen at home in 2008. The CNOSF heard the case in Paris on Thursday and gave their verdict Friday lunchtime.
Tour de France organisers, ASO, accepted that Boonen could ride in a brief official statement.
“The management of the Tour de France believes that, considering the great champion that Tom Boonen is, he will relish the opportunity that has been given to him and that he will have an exemplary attitude during the event,” the statement said.
Boonen underwent the pre-race blood test on Thursday morning and so has done everything required to start Saturday’s time trial.
Boonen was absent from the stage during Thursday’s Tour de France team presentation in Monaco, his place in Quick Step’s line-up being taken by Australian team-mate Allan Davis. Davis would also have taken Boonen’s place in the race, but must now sit it out.
Boonen is set to hold a press conference in Monaco at 2:30 local time.
The 2009 Tour de France starts on Saturday, July 4, in Monaco and finishes in Paris on Sunday, July 26.
Tour de France 2009 – Cycling Weekly’s full coverage