Luca Paolini tests positive for cocaine at Tour de France
Veteran Italian thrown out of race and provisionally suspended
Last Updated: 11/07/15 10:06am
Veteran Italian rider Luca Paolini has been provisionally suspended after testing positive for cocaine at the Tour de France.
Paolini, 38, who rides for Katusha, failed a doping control after Tuesday's fourth stage of this year's Tour.
He has been withdrawn from the race by Katusha.
An International Cycling Union statement said: “The Union Cycliste Internationale 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.”
Katusha spokesman Philippe Maertens said: "The team decided to remove him from the Tour. We were told at the beginning of the evening [about the result]. We're very surprised because cocaine is not a substance that improves performance."
Paolini was working as a domestique for team-mates Alexander Kristoff and Joaquim Rodriguez at the Tour and had been lying 168th after Friday's seventh stage.
He has won stages of the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana during a 16-year career and claimed a solo victory at the one-day Belgian classic Gent-Wevelgem in March.
The Italian apologised on Twitter, writing: "Sorry to all my fellow riders. I have always believed in testing because they are making this sport ever more credible. I want to remain silent and resolve my issues.
"I know this is a bad time, above all because of the intense media scrutiny. I hope my absence doesn't hinder our chances of a good final result."
Katusha released a statement that read: "In application of the Team policy, the rider has been immediately withdrawn from the Tour de France.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."