Boonen admits to drink problem; suspended by team
Whilst his rivals were fighting it out for glory in the Giro d'Italia, fallen Belgian sprint star Tom Boonen was left reflecting on a career left in tatters after a second positive test for cocaine.
The triple Paris-Roubaix winner and former world champion was interviewed on Belgian TV programme Sporza and admitted: "I think I have a problem. After spending three to four months working, when I go out I probably over-step the mark and I become someone else."
Boonen returned a positive result for cocaine in an out-of-competition dope test on April 27, the second time that the recreational drug has been found in his body in a year. He previously failed an out-of-competition test for the drug in May 2008.
"The night before the drug test, I went out," Boonen said. "I stayed for a while and I drank. At some stage I must have taken something. Then I had a blackout."
After last year's positive, Boonen refused to admit that he'd willingly taken the drug and claimed that his drink was spiked. Although not banned from competing, the organisers of the Tour de France refused to let him ride on the grounds that he'd brought the sport into disrepute.
QUICK STEP SUSPENDS BOONEN
Although an out-of-competition test for cocaine does not lead to a ban from competition, Boonen's Belgian Quick Step squad has suspended him with immediate effect.
In a statement issued on Saturday (May 9), the team said:
"This morning Team Quick Step took notice of a positive test outside competition of Tom Boonen. Team Quick Step announces that Tom Boonen has been suspended from all competitive activity effective immediately.
"The staff is working closely with team sponsors and will continue to update the situation during the weekend evaluating eventual further action."
Boonen may now face criminal charges for cocaine use. In Belgium, this can carry a prison sentence of up to five years.
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