Cyclist Tom Boonen tests positive for cocaine
The Flemish cyclist tested positive for use of cocaine use in spot check ahead of his competition.10 June 2008
BRUSSELS - Former cycling world champion Tom Boonen has been caught using cocaine which doesn't constitute a doping offence but has drawn a criminal investigation.
"A judge will look into the matter," said Inge Delissen, the spokeswoman of the prosecution office in the town of Turnhout which is dealing with the case.
The home of his parents and that of his girlfriend were reportedly searched by police on Monday and Boonen questioned by police.
Boonen's Quickstep team said it was working on a statement. Boonen is due to race on the weekend at the Tour de Suisse.
Boonen, 27, the winner of this year's Paris-Roubaix race who has pop star status in his home country Belgium, submitted the positive test on 25 May.
Boonen tested positive for cocaine use at the end of May, before he started his competition season.
The ruling body UCI said that cocaine is only rated a doping substance if the test comes immediately before or after a race, which wasn't the case with Boonen.
"Three days before a competition is rated as out-of-competition. But the same results would have constituted a positive test one day ahead of a race," said UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani.
Boonen was mentioned in connection with cocaine use by ex-cyclist Tom Vannoppen.
Vannoppen tested positive December 2007 for cocaine. During his interrogation he allegedly mentioned Boonen as a dealer; he later denied this. The authorities have nevertheless been keeping close tabs on Tom Boonen in 2008.
The 2005 world champion last week lost his driver's licence last week over a speeding incident under the influence of alcohol.
The Belgian cycling association has no comment at the moment.
Quick-Step team leader Rik Van Slycke declines comment, saying: “I don't know enough yet to give a respectable reaction. That's all I have to say."
[dpa / flandersnews.be / Expatica]