By Agence France Presse
Quick Step’s Tom Boonen has been given the green light from the UCI to compete in next month’s Tour de France despite a recent, second positive test for cocaine.
Boonen, the winner of major one-day classics and Tour de France stages, sparked controversy last month when it was revealed he had tested positive for cocaine for the second time in a year.
It led to immediate calls for him to be banned from this year’s showcase event, and the UCI is set to launch disciplinary proceedings against Boonen for bringing the sport into disrepute.
However on Wednesday, UCI Pat McQuaid said that the governing body would not be able to complete such a disciplinary process before the July 4-26 Tour, adding that “according to the regulations” Boonen is now free to race in the Tour.
The Belgian star is currently racing the Dauphiné Libéré in France, a traditional warm-up for the Tour.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme said he was shocked to hear the UCI’s stance and added that Tour officials would now meet to decide Boonen’s fate for the race.
“We’ve just learned like everyone else that Boonen is free to race but we will need two or three days to decide whether he will be invited on the Tour,” said Prudhomme.
UCI president Pat McQuaid said earlier Boonen will eventually face some kind of sanction for his actions, which, because they occurred out of competition, means he cannot face a traditional drugs ban.
“I still stand by my request for him to be sanctioned, but there’s a long process that has to be followed and that takes time,” McQuaid said at an international anti-doping conference.
“That process won’t take place before the end of June. Even if it did, he has a right of appeal and from that point of view we cannot intervene in that process,” McQuaid added. “Boonen can race, until such times as disciplinary measures decide otherwise.”