18th of July 2012 Author: Johnny Karp
Luxembourg rider Frank Schleck was withdrawn off this year's Tour de France after failing a drugs test.
He finished third in last year's race but now he tested positive for the diuretic Xipamide on 14 July. Schleck was12th in the Tour's overall standings at that point and he "categorically denies" taking any banned substance and insisted that his 'B' sample be tested. "If this analysis confirms the initial result, I will argue that I have been the victim of poisoning," he said.
Frank Schleck, the older brother of 2010 Tour de France winner Andy, was nine minutes and 45 seconds behind leader Bradley Wiggins and his chances of fighting for a place on the podium were quite slim. His RadioShack-Nissan team immediately withdrew him from the race so he could prepare a defence. The rider went to the Pau police station on Tuesday, the last rest day in the Tour, for questioning.
Schleck denied any wrongdoing and immediately asked to make us of his right to demand analysis of his 'B' sample.
Here is what his statement was: "I categorically deny taking any banned substance. I have no explanation for the test result and therefore insist that the 'B' sample be tested, which is my right. If this analysis confirms the initial result, I will argue that I have been the victim of poisoning."
Xipamide is a sulfonamide used for the treatment of oedema, fluid retention and hypertension.
An official RadioShack-Nissan team statement said: "Our team attaches great value to transparency. After being informed by the UCI (International Cycling Union) about the presence of Xipamide in the urine sample of Frank Schleck on 14 July, the team has decided to immediately withdraw Frank Schleck from the Tour de France. Even though an abnormal 'A' sample does not require these measures, Mr Schleck and the team believe this 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. 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. However, the team is fully determined to collaborate with the anti-doping agencies in order to resolve the matter."
It is the second drug-related incident in this year's Tour after team Cofidis suspended French rider Remy di Gregorio on 10 July after learning that he may have tried to use banned substances. And these are just the last of a long line of doping allegations at the Tour: seven-time winner Lance Armstrong was formally charged with using performance-enhancing drugs by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) while Andy Schleck was awarded victory in the 2010 Tour when Alberto Contador was later banned for two years after testing positive for clenbuterol.
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