Will Boonen be barred from the Tour again after second cocaine positive?
A professional cyclist testing positive for cocaine once could be dismissed as careless, but twice is downright foolish.
The Belgian rider Tom Boonen missed last year's Tour of Switzerland and Tour de France when the organisers took the view that his out-of-competition positive test for the recreational drug – although not a sanctionable sporting offence – brought the sport into disrepute.
This time, ASO may well take the same view, leaving the Quick Step rider's season in tatters for a second consecutive year.
Boonen's Quick Step team confirmed today that an out-of-competition test carried out by the Flemish authorities on April 27, was positive.
When detected out-of-competition, cocaine is not banned by WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, but Boonen could again face criminal charges in Belgium.
After his positive test in May 2008, which he claimed must have been caused by someone spiking his drink at a bar, the Belgian authorities pursued him. In February, a court found him guilty of using cocaine but did not punish him further. A second positive may not be dealt with so leniently.
Although he will not face a suspension from competition, because the test was conducted out of competition, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Quick Step to stand by him.
Quick Step announced on Saturday that Boonen had been suspended from competition by the team with immediate effect, but did not say how long the rider would be sidelined for.
Boonen excluded from 2008 Tour de France
The Tuesday Comment on Boonen's cocaine positive in 2008