FOUGERES, France (Reuters) - Italian Luca Paolini has been provisionally suspended after the Katusha rider failed a dope test for cocaine on the Tour de France, his team and the International Cycling Union (UCI) said on Friday.
“In accordance with UCI anti-doping Rules, the rider has been provisionally suspended until the adjudication of the affair,” the UCI said in a statement.
The sport’s governing body said that the sample was collected on Tuesday.
Paolini, 38, won the Ghent-Wevelgem classic this year. He also won one stage on the Giro d‘Italia in 2013 and another one on the Vuelta in 2006.
On the Tour de France, he was one of the lieutenants of top sprinter Alexander Kristoff of Norway.
Cocaine is a stimulant that is banned in competition.
Paolini is the first rider to fail a dope test on the Tour since 2012, with no rider testing positive on the world’s biggest race in the two editions since then.
“In application of the team policy, the rider has been immediately withdrawn from the Tour de France,” Katusha said in a statement.
”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.
“Katusha is fully determined to collaborate with the anti-doping agencies in order to resolve the matter.”
The last rider to fail a dope test on the Tour de France was Luxembourg’s Franck Schleck who was withdrawn from the race after testing positive for a banned diuretic. He was eventually banned for one year.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Alan Baldwin