Saturday, May 9, 2009
Positive test is second for Boonen
BRUSSELS -- Former world cycling champion Tom Boonen was suspended Saturday by his Quick Step team after testing positive for cocaine for a second time.
The Belgian was reportedly tested on April 24 by Flanders regional government authorities, 12 days after he won the Paris-Roubaix classic for the third time.
Quick Step spokesman Alessandro Tegner said his team was informed Saturday about the result of the test. The team said in an e-mail that Boonen "has been suspended from all competitive activity effective immediately."
Boonen's attorney, Luc Leleu, said it remains to be proven that his client had used cocaine.
"But if it actually comes to a trial ... the court has at its disposal a wide range of possible penalties, (ranging from) a suspension and up to a possible prison term," Leleu told Belgian TV.
Last year, Boonen tested positive for cocaine in an out-of-competition test and missed the Tour de France. A Belgian court found him guilty in February but issued no penalty against Boonen, who apologized and never confirmed he had taken the drug.
Penalties for possession in Belgium can vary from three months to five years in jail, along with fines of up to $155,000.
Boonen, the 2005 world champion, may not earn an automatic suspension from the world cycling federation because cocaine is a recreational drug and the test was not administered by cycling authorities.