Thu, Apr 14, 2016 - Page 20 News List

Luca Paolini is hit with 18-month Tour cocaine ban

AFP, LAUSANNE, Switzerland

Then-Katush cyclist Luca Paolini is pictured during the team presentation ceremony at Lepelenburg park in Utrecht, the Netherlands, on July 2, last year.

Photo: AFP

Italian cyclist Luca Paolini was yesterday banned for 18 months after testing positive for cocaine at last year’s Tour de France, cycling’s ruling body the UCI announced.

The suspension relates to the 39-year-old’s failed dope test for the recreational drug on July 7 last year, which triggered his dismissal by Katusha.

The UCI said Paolini was “guilty of a non-intentional” anti-doping rule violation.”

The cyclist, who started his career in the peloton in 2000 with Mapeil-QuickStep, won one stage in the 2013 Tour of Italy and another stage in the 2006 Tour of Spain.

Paolini was the second Katusha team member to fail drug tests within a year.

In February, the Russian outfit suspended Eduard Vorganov after he tested positive for meldonium, which boosts oxygen supply to the blood and tissues in the body.

Despite those cases, the UCI on Feb. 8 said that Katusha would not have their licence suspended.

In another case, Italian Mattia Gavazzi of the Amore&Vitta team also tested positive for cocaine, the third time in his career, and was provisionally suspended by the UCI.

Professional since 2006, the 32-year-old Gavazzi served a 14-month ban in 2004 when riding as an amateur and saw out a two-and-a-half year ban after a second positive test 2010, reduced from six years after he collaborated with Italian Olympic Committee investigators.

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