Boonen fights for Tour start
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Friday, June 19, 2009

Boonen fights for Tour start

by Agence France-Presse at 12:47 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France
 
Belgian Tom Boonen and his Quick Step team are to contest his ban from the Tour de France by the race organisers ASO (Amaury Sport Organisation) they announced on Friday.

The 28-year-old three-time Paris-Roubaix winner had been barred by ASO on Thursday after testing positive for cocaine for the second time in a year in April - they stated that they did not believe that his image suited what they envisaged for the great race.

However, Quick Step issued a statement on Friday where they said that they would pursue all legal channels to contest this decision and believed that they had been helped by a statement also released on Thursday by the sport's governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI).

In it the UCI said they would not be taking punitive action over six-time Tour de France stage winner and 2007 green jersey champion Boonen's positive test.

"The Quick Step team have decided to contest by all legal means the decision taken by ASO, which they believe are baseless," read the statement.

"This decision by ASO is even more astonishing, because yesterday (Thursday) afternoon, the UCI published a press release in which they officially announced that they had ruled out any disciplinary action against Tom," added team manager Patrick Lefevere.

One of the team's lawayers said that they were rapidly putting together their arguments.

"In view of the short time between now and the beginning of the Tour (July 4) urgency is of the utmost priority, and we are getting on with preparing our case," said the lawyer, Jean-Louis Dupont.

ASO, who have taken such steps before in banning the Astana team from competing last year because of drugs scandals in the race the previous year, had issued a statement on Thursday explaining their reason for the ban.

"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."
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