Three-time Paris-Roubaix winner offered option to pay fine
By Agence France Presse
Quick Step’s Tom Boonen has been told that all criminal charges relating to his use of cocaine will be dropped if he pays a 1000 Euro fine, the public prosecutor in Turnhout said Wednesday.
The prosecutor said that if Boonen, the 2005 world champion and current Belgian road champion, paid the fine the case would be closed.
“We consider Boonen as just another consumer of drugs, not as a famous sportsman of whom an example should be made,” the public prosecutor was quoted as saying in Het Nieuwsblad newspaper.
Cocaine, although illegal, is not considered a performance-enhancing drug unless used during competition. Both of Boonen’s tests were conducted outside of competition and the resulting positives were, therefore, not considered to be violations of the World Anti-Doping Code.
Boonen, a three-time winner of Paris-Roubaix, first tested positive for cocaine in April 2008, a finding that prompted Tour de France officials to exclude him from that year’s race. However, when he again tested positive in May of this year, Boonen challenged a similar attempt to ban him from the Tour. A French review panel ruled that he should be allowed to race the Tour just hours before the start in Monaco.
Bonnen, winner of the Tour’s green points jersey in 2007, had an unimpressive run this year and dropped out of the race ahead of the 15th stage. He is slated to compete in this year’s Vuelta a España, which begins in Amsterdam on Saturday.