Frank Schleck quit the Tour de France after testing positive for a banned diuretic, the second drugs scandal to hit the race in a week.
Schleck, who finished third last year, was found to have Xipamide in a urine sample four days ago, the International Cycling Union, or UCI, said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday. The diuretic can be used as a masking agent for performance-enhancing drugs.
Even though UCI rules don’t mandate an automatic suspension for the drug in Schleck’s sample, the rider and his RadioShack-Nissan-Trek team agreed that he should withdraw so the race “can go on in calm” and allow him time to prepare his defense, according to a team statement. Schleck said he requested an analysis of a secondary sample.
“I categorically deny taking any banned substance,” said Schleck, according to a statement posted on the RTL website. “I have no explanation for the test result and insist that the B sample be tested, which is my right. If this analysis confirms the first result, I will argue that I have been the victim of poisoning.”
It’s the second drugs-related incident in this year’s Tour. Remy di Gregorio was suspended by the Cofidis team on July 10 as it investigates whether the French cyclist tried to take performance-enhancing drugs. He denies wrongdoing.
Today’s 197-kilometer (122-mile) stage in the Pyrenees is the 16th of 20. The race ends July 22 in Paris. Bradley Wiggins leads by 2 minutes, 5 seconds from Team Sky teammate Chris Froome. Schleck had been 9:45 off the lead in 12th place.
Schleck, a 32-year-old from Luxembourg, was among dozens of riders to crash 16 miles from the end of stage six, losing time on the leaders.
Schleck’s positive test is the latest setback for the RadioShack squad. Manager Johan Bruyneel is sitting out the race after being accused of overseeing doping on the U.S. Postal Service team that was led by Lance Armstrong. Bruyneel denies the charge by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and has asked for his case to be heard by an arbitration panel.
The RadioShack team, which leads the team standings over Team Sky, said Xipamide isn’t present in any medicine that it uses and the reason for its presence in Schleck’s sample was “unclear to the team.”
Schleck finished third behind his younger brother, Andy, and champion Cadel Evans at last year’s Tour.