June 11, 2008 (Saint-Paul-en-Jarez, France) — Tom Boonen (Quick Step) will likely be excluded from the Tour de France reports AFP. This follows Boonen testing positive for cocaine in an out-of-competition control on May 25. Boonen’s exclusion from the start line will be made official upon confirmation of details of the case.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme justified his decision by saying that, while cocaine is not a performance-enhancing drug, Boonen’s presence there could still damage the race’s reputation. He added that top cyclists have to demonstrate exemplary behaviour. Boonen, who won the 2007 green jersey for TdF points classification, was considered among the favourites for the 2008 TdF. This news follows on the heels of his team giving Boonen their support at a press conference in Brussels earlier today. The 27-year-old sprinter and 2005 world champion also apologized for the pain he caused his team and family.
Meanwhile, Bouygues Telecom announced that it is no longer interested in acquiring Boonen for the 2009 season according to the French-based media group, l’Equipe. As reported previously, Boonen is unlikely to face sporting sanctions from Belgium or from the UCI resulting from his positive cocaine test.
In more positive news, a statement on the Quick Step website indicates that floor maker “Quick Step and Latexco-Innergetic announced they will be prolonging their sponsorship agreement with Patrick Lefevere’s [Quick Step] team for the next 3 years (2009 — 2010 — 2011). Specialized and Vermarc also renewed their sponsorship with the team.
For more on this story click here, and AFP also Equipe video in French.