Italian cyclist Luca Paolini tested positive for cocaine at the Tour de France on July 7, French sports daily L’Equipe reported Friday.
He has been thrown out of the race.
It was the first positive doping test of this year’s Tour (July 4-26).
Cocaine is actually not banned out of competition, AFP reported, but it is on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s list of doping substances in competition.
Here is the official statement from the UCI, world cycling’s governing body:
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that it has notified Italian rider Luca Paolini of an Adverse Analytical Finding of Cocaine (Benzoylecgonine metabolite) in a sample collected in the scope of an in-competition control on 7 July 2015 during the Tour de France.
The rider has the right to request and attend the analysis of the B sample.
In accordance with UCI Anti-doping Rules, the rider has been provisionally suspended until the adjudication of the affair.
At this stage of the procedure, the UCI will not comment any further.
This is the official statement from Paolini’s Katusha team:
Team Katusha has been informed tonight by the UCI that Italian rider Luca Paolini has been notified of an Adverse Analytical Finding. The presence of cocaine has been detected in a sample collected on July 7th.
According to the UCI Regulations the rider has been provisionally suspended with immediate effect. In application of the Team policy the rider has been immediately withdrawn from the Tour de France.
Bearing in mind the anti doping regulations, the team will wait until the analysis of the B sample has been conducted before taking any further action or making any further comment.
Team Katusha is fully determined to collaborate with the anti-doping agencies in order to resolve the matter.
Ozgur Ozdemir/Velo/Getty Images
His Katusha team has a sorry history of doping, AFP reported:
“Christian Pfannberger and Antonio Colom tested positive for the banned blood-booster EPO in 2009. Alexandr Kolobnev tested positive for the diuretic hydrochlorothiazide in 2011 while a year later Denis Galimzyanov was caught taking EPO.”
The last rider to test positive for doping during the Tour, AFP added, was Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck on July 17, 2012.
The 38-year-old Italian is one of the most experienced riders in the pro peloton and widely known as one of the most colorful characters in the sport.
Last year Paolini was caught using his cellphone during a stage of the Tour de France.
For that he was given a warning.
A Katusha press officer reportedly said that Paolini denied taking cocaine, according to a tweet from a reporter with Eurosport:
One time during a race he threw his $10,000 bike in view of TV cameras: