Boonen barred from 2009 Tour de France
Tom Boonen has been barred from riding this year's Tour de France by the event's organisers as a result of his second positive test for cocaine within the last 12 months.
In a statement issued today, Tour organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) said "Following Tom Boonen's recent test, after a first test in 2008, the Tour de France, after meeting Quick Step team representatives, can only state that the image and behavior of Tom Boonen do not match the Tour de France's image or the one that should be promoted by such an exceptional champion."
Although the Belgian sprinter would not be welcome at the Tour, ASO has said that he is free to appeal against the decision to the French Cycling Federation.
After failing an out-of-competition test for cocaine on April 27, 2009, Boonen admitted that he did have a drink problem and that he took the drug recreationally. He previously failed an out-of-competition test for cocaine in May 2008, and was subsequently barred from last year's Tour de France.
After the latest cocaine positive, the former World Champion and Tour green jersey winner was temporarily suspended by his Quick Step team, but returned to competition early this month having signed up to a long-term therapy programme.
Despite Boonen's ban from the 2009 Tour, the Union Cycliste Internationale have decided to take no action against the rider.
"The UCI Management Committee has decided not to institute disciplinary proceedings against Mr Tom Boonen for having allegedly taken cocaine out of competition, after the Belgian rider supplied a number of elements in his defence," read a statement issued by the UCI on Thursday.