Frank Schleck out of Tour de France after failing dope test

Jul 18, 2012

RadioShack team doesn't hesitate in dropping brother of 2010 Tour winner, Andy

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YESTERDAY was supposed to have been a rest day in the Tour de France - but it turned into anything but as the stunning news broke that Frank Schleck had failed a doping test.

The Luxembourg rider, brother of Andy Schleck, winner of the 2010 Tour, produced a positive test on July 14 after the Cap D'Agde stage when traces of the ‘specified' diuretic Xipamide showed up. Schleck received the news from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) on Tuesday and almost immediately his RadioShack-Nissan team announced he would be withdrawing from the Tour.

Schleck, who was 12th in the overall standings, can ask to be present when his B sample is analysed within the next four days but RadioShack-Nissan appeared eager to avoid any drawn-out controversy and to ensure they are not kicked out of the Tour en masse.

"Our team attaches great value to transparency," it declared in a press release. "Even though an abnormal A sample does not require these measures, Mr Schleck and the team believe this [withdrawal] is the right thing to do, to ensure the Tour de France can go on in calm and that Frank Schleck can prepare his defence in accordance with the legal timing to do so."

The BBC reports that uniformed and plain clothes police were seen at the RadioShack-Nissan team hotel in Pau, but team spokesman Philippe Maertens explained they were present to control the media rather than conduct a search for banned substances. Sky Sports says, however, that Schleck voluntarily attended Pau police station "for questioning" when informed of the positive test.

The BBC describes Xipamide as "a sulfonamide used for the treatment of oedema, fluid retention and hypertension" and Maertens was quick to point out to reporters that "it's not a performance-enhancing product, but it's forbidden".

Nonetheless Maertens admitted the positive test "was like he got a hammer on his head. He doesn't know anything about where the product comes from. It's a shock for everybody".

To further distance themselves from Schleck, the RadioShack-Nissan concluded their press statement by saying: "On the subject of Xipamide the team can declare the following: it is not a product that is present in any of the medicine that the team uses and the reason for the presence of Xipamide in the urine sample of Mr Schleck is unclear to the team. Therefore, the team is not able to explain the adverse findings at this point."

The team manager of RadioShack team is Johan Bruyneel, one of the six men charged last month by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) with possession of prohibited substances in connection with the Lance Armstrong case.

Consequently Bruyneel stayed away from the Tour to avoid any whiff of controversy hanging over his team. Andy Schleck is also absent this year, after fracturing his pelvis in a recent crash.

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