Boonen wins CAS decision for Tour ride
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Friday, July 3, 2009

Boonen wins CAS decision for Tour ride

by VeloNation Press at 9:05 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
Tom Boonen, Belgium's top cyclist, has won his first battle of this year's Tour de France - of the legal sort - allowing him to start the race in Monaco on Saturday. Last year began the cyclist's troubles with the Tour's organizers, when the rider tested positive for cocaine in an out of competition doping control. The Belgian, who would have been the defending green jersey champion, did not contest the ban.

This year's situation was much the same. Boonen again tested positive for cocaine just two weeks after his third victory in Paris-Roubaix. When the test results became public, the Tour organizers left the decision to the sport's governing body, the UCI. After deciding to allow Boonen to race before his disciplinary hearing, and then scheduling the hearing on a date after the Tour's finish, the race organizers again decided to ban the Belgian from riding the Tour. This time Boonen and his Quick-Step team decided to take the race to court over the matter.

The first round of the legal battle was at the Tribunal de Grande Istance in Nanterre, France. It ended badly for the Quick-Step camp as the court decided it was incompetent to make a decision in the matter. This left the rider with very little time to move the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for a ruling. The court agreed to hear the case today, and ruled in favor of the former World champion.

The Tour organizers confirmed the decision in a statement, "After the decision announced by the CAS on Friday, Tom Boonen will be at the start of the 2009 Tour de France."

"The Tour's management believes that, considering the great champion that Tom is, he will relish the opportunity that has been given to him and he will have an exemplary attitude during the event."

A spokesman for team Quick-Step told AFP, "We can confirm the ruling and that Tom Boonen will start the Tour de France on Saturday."

What this decision means for the team is that Australian Allan Davis, who was Boonen's replacement, will not be starting the race. It also means that sprint favorite Mark Cavendish will have his hands full in the sprints as his superiority is challenged by a highly motivated Tom Boonen who has a powerful team at his disposal.

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