Astana's Lars Boom to start Tour de France despite cortisol controversy
Astana retain Dutch rider despite low cortisol levels
Last Updated: 04/07/15 12:42pm
Astana have confirmed that Lars Boom will start the Tour de France on Saturday despite the Dutch rider returning cortisol levels under the normal level.
Boom, 29, has not failed a drugs test, but ahead of the race his cortisol levels were under the minimum allowed by the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), an association of teams committed to anti-doping of which Astana are a member.
Under the MPCC code, Boom should be removed from competition for eight days, which would rule him out of the Tour, which starts on Saturday.
Astana asked the International Cycling Union (UCI) if they could replace Boom with Italian rider Alessandro Vanotti, but the UCI refused.
Astana subsequently confirmed on Saturday morning that Boom would take part in the Tour's opening-stage individual time trial in Utrecht.
A team statement said: "Astana Pro Team will start the 2015 Tour de France with nine riders, including Dutch cyclist Lars Boom.
"A low cortisol level is grounds to stop a rider for a minimum eight days of competition in order to prevent any health risk to the rider according to rules established by the MPCC, of which Astana Pro Team is a member.
"Astana Pro Team asked the UCI to allow a replacement rider in place of Boom, and received confirmation from the UCI that as a low cortisol result is no risk to the health of the rider, therefore there are no valid grounds for a late substitution.
"Team medical staff have advised that Boom's low cortisol result is the consequence of a long-standing and well-known application of anti-asthma therapy by the athlete and is not a violation of UCI rules and regulations.
"Team medical staff have advised that there is no danger to the rider's health or safety to start the 2015 Tour de France. Astana Pro Team medical staff will continue to monitor Boom to assess any potential health risk for the athlete, and will retest the athlete in the next days with independent medical supervision to clarify the origins of the CADF [Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation] results."
UCI president Brian Cookson said in a statement: "Lars Boom has not broken any UCI or Wada [World Anti-Doping Agency] rules, the issue of cortisol and cortisone has been referred to Wada's scientific experts and at the present moment they have not recommended we or anyone else take action to include that within our rules.
"It's not included in the Wada rules so I can say Lars Boom is free to start the Tour de France under UCI rules, he hasn't broken any rules."
Astana's decision to start Boom leaves their continued membership of the MPCC in serious doubt.
It also casts another cloud over the Kazakh team, who had a spate of failed drugs tests in 2014 and were threatened with having their UCI WorldTour licence revoked as a result.
Boom won the cobbled stage of last year's Tour while riding for Belkin and was expected to play a key role in safely ushering Astana team leader Vincenzo Nibali through the cobbled fourth stage of this year's race.
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