Frank Schleck, who finished third at the 2011 Tour de France, was handed a one-year ban from cycling today after failing a drugs test at last year’s race.
Schleck abandoned the Tour in July after the banned drug Xipamide was found in his urine sample. The diuretic can be used as a masking agent for performance-enhancing drugs.
The sanction imposed by an anti-doping panel in his native Luxembourg is less than the World Anti-Doping Agency’s recommended two-year ban for first-time doping offenses.
Schleck, who’s on the same RadioShack-Trek team as his younger brother Andy, said the ban -- which is retroactive and will run through mid-July -- was too harsh. It means he will miss this year’s Tour de France.
“The decision to suspend me during one year is too severe considering the fact that the council acknowledged that I unintentionally consumed a contaminated product,” Schleck, 32, said in a statement. “The judges acknowledged that I am not a cheater.”
The panel couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
Leopard SA, which controls the RadioShack-Trek team, said it had no immediate comment on the ruling.
In an initial statement after Schleck failed the drugs test, the team said Xipamide isn’t present in any medicine that it uses and the reason for its presence in his sample was unclear.
Scheck’s ban ratchets up the negative publicity for cycling, which is reeling from Lance Armstrong’s confession earlier this month that he doped during all seven of his Tour de France wins.
Armstrong has said he’s been made a scapegoat for drug use in cycling and that a truth-and-reconciliation panel is the best way to clean up the sport. His comments came in an interview published today with cyclingnews.com.