Boonen banned by Tour Organizers
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Boonen banned by Tour Organizers

by Agence France-Presse at 2:14 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France

Belgian cycling star Tom Boonen has been banned from competing in the Tour de France following his positive drug test for cocaine, organisers ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) announced on Thursday.

The 28-year-old Quick Step rider tested positive for cocaine in April, less than a year after he first tested positive for the drug in May 2008.

"In the wake of Tom Boonen's recent drug test, which followed a previous positive test in 2008, the Tour de France, having spoken to representatives from his Quick Step team, can only note that the image and the behaviour of Tom Boonen are incompatible with the image of the Tour de France and the image that such an exceptional champion should try to display," said ASO in a statement.

"In these circumstances and in order to preserve his reputation, his image and those of the Tour de France, the ASO group has decided not to accept the presence of Tom Boonen in its event."

ASO also revealed that Boonen and Quick Step have the right to appeal.

There was, however, some good news for Boonen as the sport's governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI) announced they would be taking no disciplinary action against him for his positive test.

"Finally, the UCI management committee has decided not to institute disciplinary proceedings against Mr Tom Boonen for having allegedly taken cocaine out of competition, after the Belgian rider supplied a number of elements in his defence," read a statement from the UCI.

Boonen's team have backed him in his bid to compete in the July 4-26 race and previously promised to provide legal support if he was refused entry to the Tour.

"The sporting and economic damage for team and sponsors (which would arise from) the absence of Tom in the biggest race of the year are incalculable," said Quick Step manager Patrick Lefevere.

Lefevere had threatened to demand millions of euros in compensation if his rider was excluded.


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